We openly invest in public businesses on the stock market, openly use public washrooms and are often even open about our political views. So why are we not open when it comes to our challenging life circumstances and mental issues? Don't we all have them in one way or another? Yet we keep them so private.
I burned out a number of years ago and have been seeing a therapist for a number of years. There - it's out - now - note, the operative word is NOW - that I am better. When I was not well, it was a huge secret that just less than a handful of people knew. I was experiencing so much shame that went along with it as well. I was not able to practice as the competent and confident social worker that I had been for so many years. Upon reflection, I wonder, though how much did my shame and hiding, being so secretive contribute to the burnout or make it worse than it needed to be. Becoming more open has played a great part in my healing and self-development.
I am now at a place in my work and my own self-development that I condone being more open with others and with yourself - to not hide behind or be ashamed of your problems. I believe it helps in enhancing and maintaining resiliency. Destigmatizing can help you in coping with your adverse circumstances, such as caring for a sick family member, experiencing job loss, financial loss, divorce, etc. This does not mean that you have to put out a bulletin board displaying your problems. Rather acknowledge, assess and assist yourself through them by sharing with the right people and do not be ashamed of having problems. Really, who doesn't have problems? The person standing behind you in the supermarket line may be going through exactly what you are going through. Who would know though when it is a secret.
In counseling, being open not only goes for the clients who have come in with their problems. But also this applies for those who are providing the counseling or coaching as well. When you come to see me as a client, it is all about you. However, if I think it will be helpful to my client, I will disclose something personal about myself. I feel comfortable and at peace with myself in my own skin that there is not a threat in disclosing. Personally I lived in secrecy too long and I know looking back that it was harmful for my own well-being, pretending everything was okay when it was not and not being true to myself. In other words, hiding your problems or hiding from your problems does not make the problems go away. On the contrary, they can make the problems worse.
So, what's your story? How comfortable are you in your own skin? Do you want to talk about it?