A very public meltdown ‘outed’ me. I was on long-term medication for depression but desperately trying to get some additional support during a particularly horrible epsiode. Wired but exhausted, exhausted but unable to sleep I called the local IAPT helpline and was advised to double my anti-depressant dose. Bad move. The dose I was taking was the maximum ‘safe’ dose. I knew this at the time. But oh, I would have tried anything. Whether or not this was the final straw I don’t know, but the outcome of going into work on a particularly twitchy day was that I had a panic attack (only the second one ever-woah those things are nasty) freaked out, spent two hours crying and thoroughly bewildered my colleagues. Now long-term this meant that I had little choice but to be frank about my mental health. OH already knew that I had a history of depression, but nobody else was aware. I was big on ‘fake it til you make it’ and it had carried me through since my teens. Or so I convinced myself. In actual fact, the impact of mental illness has cost me several jobs, and who knows how many opportunities, relationships and moments of joy.
Anyway, that big old meltdown was the catalyst for a lot of change, and it led to me finally accessing proper mental healthcare. Although the continuity of that is kind of hit and miss. Having long suspected that depression wasn’t my only problem, I saw a psychiatrist (well, several) who advised me that I have a mood disorder. Symptomatic of Bipolar II – although the severity of my depressive episodes doesn’t make it an exact fit. Hearing that at least gave me some information to work with. Somewhere to start in trying to find a way to function as successfully as possible. Although the problem of coming to terms with long-term mental illness is a theme for another day.
Being outed was actually a positive thing for me. Although it could have gone the other way. My employers were incredible, although I continue to live in daily fear that I don’t bring enough to the table to justify some of their accomodations. Some days I just can’t quite be the creature I am when I am well. That’s frustrating. But in some ways life is easier.
However, work is only one area of my life and I still face the age-old problem of how open to be. Which led to me to thinking about how other people tackle the problem of what to reveal, to whom and when.
Are you out?