Sharing is caring

I share. I’m a sharer. It’s a conscious decision, you know? We humans tend to claim consciousness far too often, but in this particular case I’m 100% positive that I did indeed consciously decide to speak openly about myself- about all I know about myself if necessary.book

It happened when I was 17 and my mom offered to pay for my therapy sessions privately, so no employer, insurance company or future husband could ever find out about those nasty flaws I have. I refused furiously, because I knew I didn’t choose to be the way I was, and therefore, shouldn’t be discriminated for it. Ever.

heart

So, I made up my mind on that topic for good: if anybody in the whole wide world should be able to talk about stigmatized issues such as mental disorders then an otherwise healthy white girl from an educated, wealthy background. Life put one single burden on my shoulder: a lack of mental resilience. I should be able defend that burden against stigma in order to make things better for people who have a bit more to deal with.

So, that’s my thinking when it comes to transparency. I’m certainly not made out of glass. I think, feel and do a lot of stuff that no one knows about. However, one of the many things I learned in Madagascar was that privacy is a luxury of the Western world and not necessary for survival. It should be granted to anyone, but sometimes one can give it up in order to make the bigger picture a better one.

transparent

whoops

And this is why I think the world would be a better place, if people were more willing to be honest about their weaknesses:

People posing as invincible winners at life – which is blatantly unrealistic – was a bit intimidating to me when I was younger. There were a couple of times in my life when the thought that I was the least qualified person in the room to speak up held me back from expressing doubts or critique. Some of those times, I later regretted deeply. In the bigger picture, the dangers of discouraging people from speaking their mind far outweigh the risk of hearing a lot of bullshit from idiots. Yet, free speech isn’t necessarily secured by laws, but by open minds.

How can you bring yourself to seek support if everybody else pretends they don’t need that shit? How can people learn from each other’s mistakes if no one ever admits to them? And also, it is my conviction that no reality, no matter how harsh, will ever be as hard to deal with as the diffuse consequences of repression. There’s so many standard examples for this: There’s the man who has trouble at work, comes home, doesn’t talk about it, but starts yelling at his wife and kids over absolutely nothing. Or the girl that needs her parents to take care of her in one way or another, but rather chooses to starve herself until people have to take care of her, than simply ask for what she needs. Or the bullied kid that falls into depression because of all the repressed feelings of shame, humiliation, aggression, and helplessness, if he or she is never granted a chance to get it all out…

It’s so obvious if you reflect upon the times were you did talk about something that had been torturing you for a while. Wasn’t that  s u c h  a relief? Still, it seems people have to experience this relief a lot of times before they start trusting in the healing effect of being open about their emotions. That is probably, because facing your demons is scary as hell and often remains scary for a long while. Some of those demons will always continue to occasionally make you angry, sad or disgusted with yourself and others. But going through a couple of emotions won’t permanently damage you, ever. The stuff you repress might, though.

Stigma encourages repression. So to my friends and family members who expressed concern for my privacy and discouraged me from sharing too much: it always hurts a little when you do that, you know? I know where you’re coming from, I really do. I’m grateful that you care enough about me. And yes, it happens that people use my openness against me. But in the bigger picture, there is no shame in being ‘crazy’. Communities, institutions and individuals who treat it that way should learn better. In fact, you guys could even try and air a little public pride of how hard I worked on getting better. You don’t have to, though. I can do that for myself. See?

moi

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18 thoughts on “Sharing is caring

  1. One of the reasons why your blog is one of my favourites is because you are so open, humble, and share your vulnerabilities. I wish people were more open and were more vulnerable. Especially friends. It’s hard to connect with people who are so clamped up and only project the perfect life. It’s absurd because no one has the perfect life and everyone has fucked up shit and demons they are fighting with.

    Vulnerability. That’s a new one in my vocabulary and my life. I’m starting to realize more as time goes that I want deeper connections with the people I know. The people and friends I’ve left behind are the ones who I could never connect with in a deeper way, the ones who never talked about vulnerabilities, and the ones who pretended to be living the perfect life.

    Funny thing, I have a draft I am working on related to personal finance and vulnerability; thanks for giving me a kick in the butt to get that one finished! And thanks for always writing such thoughtful posts, always making me think and think and think!

    • Thank you Steve, I can’t tell you often enough how much your thoughtful comments mean to me! And yes, I also strongly believe that openness forms friendships in a very specific manner- one that I wouldn’t want to have missed in life. The few hurtful occasions when I ran into brick walls with exposing my vulnerabilities can’t outweigh the meaningful, long-lasting relationships that resulted from it. In fact, I don’t even know why to form relationships in a different way, except maybe in the workplace…

      • Thoughtful bloggers incite thoughtful commentators I guess?? 🙂

        I’m still very selective about who I open up to, who I let in to see all of my flaws, weaknesses, and vulnerabilities. Thinking about that for a minute, the only person that truly gets to see me is my wife. I do “unmanly” things like giggle to death, act like a little kid, and all sorts of other things that I would NEVER do or show other people.

        Friends, especially close ones, I’m trying to get better at with lowering my towering walls. It’s a work in progress, but you’re right that the deepest connections we can make with other people will only occur if both sides are willing to share their fears and imperfections.

  2. I had trouble with this blog – maybe because in my (older) generation it is still so uncommon to convey such private matters. Often enough, it still feels like a “confession” – and that again is awfully close to the taboos which derive from previous forms of society and especially religion. In the Christian tradition, for instance, one confesses “sins” – and boy, was that at an affair. The church even constructed special closed seats, remember, so that you may confess without being seen?
    So it is difficult for me – although in my own environment in Germany I pass as very liberal and open and people will approach me and whisper: “I am so glad you said that – I would never dare…”
    But I have may not have been as courageous as this lady from the red cross – a lady my age. Her report on her disease moved me very much:
    http://www.tedmed.com/talks/show?id=7280&videoId=6892&ref=about-this-talk

    Maybe my comment helps somebody who was not yet born in the blogosphere.

    • It’s very interesting that you would associate the term ‘confession’ with this one… A connection I wouldn’t have made in a Million years. I know what confessing feels like- I confessed some stuff on this very blog (sexism, corruption, materialism, dishonesty…). But talking about my vulnerabilities is difficult in a very different way. Confessing is an empowering feeling, because you’re taking charge of mistakes made, your claiming responsibility, you admit to a sense of control. Admitting to vulnerability is quite the opposite: you’re letting go, you’re shoving some responsibility over to whoever is listening to you, you’re giving up control. Both can end badly depending on others, but I think Gail would agree that that’s pretty much everything the two things have in common…

  3. It is so hard to be open and share – I know from experience. Can’t help being so open in the end honesty is the best policy. I have met some amazing people like you who share and don’t cover up all the time – it is so refreshing.

    Maroulla

    • Oooh, thank you! That is so nice of you! I saw your cartoon on happy childhoods and it really made me laugh and think ‘Oh boy, that would be such a good counter-argument for everything I said in this one!’. But oh well, the world’s not black and white, right? Tons of grey zones in this topic…

  4. That’s beautiful and refreshing. I love your honesty and the way you choose to walk your own path…and your pictures!

    And, it occurs to me: who get’s to say what’s “crazy” and what’s not? “Normal” doesn’t seem to be taking us anywhere particularly useful or interesting, so maybe we should stop listening to “them” and just be “us”.

    Cheers

    Chris

  5. Sarah,
    Love these drawings. Not to read your words…
    Just fucking with you. Great and vulnerable post, and I mean this in a positive way.
    There are huge stigmas when it comes to mental health as you know, and you don’t need to be living with schizophrenia to be looked down upon; often, having a bad day and being public about it ostracizes you. And yet, there is so much potential growth in the process of dropping our social shell…
    Le Clown

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