I’ve been home from hospital for three weeks, and back at work for two weeks. I only work several hours each week, but there were staff who’d noticed my absence. Several asked where I’d been, and commented that they hadn’t seen me for ages.
I’d explain that I’d spent a month in hospital, but have been home a few weeks. My answer was met with genuine concern, and questions about my wellbeing. I’ve told different colleagues over the years that I have PTSD and a dissociative disorder. I’ve never elaborated beyond that. The reason for my hospital admission, I explained, was ‘PTSD stuff’. Only colleagues I know well have asked anything more after that.
I don’t hide my psychiatric diagnoses, but I don’t advertise them either. I’ll explain as much as people want to know, and as much as I feel comfortable with. Questions about my mental health, or mental health in general won’t offend me, but making assumptions about me, or my capabilities will.
I do tend to avoid telling most people that I have DID. It’s a difficult diagnosis to explain to people who have little knowledge of mental illness, let alone trauma and dissociation. The majority of people have some knowledge of what PTSD is, and given I have Complex PTSD, it’s not far from the truth.
I hope that by being relatively open about my own struggles with mental health issues, that those around me will feel comfortable in talking about their own mental health, and see seeking treatment as ‘normal’, reasonable, and okay. The way I see it – I was unwell, outpatient treatment wasn’t very effective at the time, inpatient treatment was going to be more effective, so that’s the treatment option I chose.
Let’s ditch the stigma.
It’s okay to not be okay. It doesn’t need to be hidden, covered up, or kept secret. It’s also okay to seek help.