If you have ever told anyone you have a mental illness, you probably know “the look.”
It happened to me yesterday, where I volunteer. The lady who gave it is a sweet and kind soul and probably had no clue it was even on her face. But it was. She gave me “the look.”
I’m not a quiet person. Lies and secrets complicate life, so I try to avoid them. Unfortunately, that usually means I tend to tell many people things they couldn’t care to know. For some reason, stuff just falls out of my face (and off of my fingertips).
Yesterday a sensitive subject came up in the office. I wasn’t feeling very steady, so rather than allow myself to be triggered, I took a short walk. I had the opportunity to look at portraits of Christ. I steadied myself and returned after just a couple of minutes. By the time I had done so, the sensitive conversation was over.
I did take the opportunity to explain myself and my actions to the person who is my supervisor in the office and who was engaging in the conversation. Unfortunately, I also disclosed my own abuse background as well as the fact I have been diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder (D.I.D.).
The moment the words came out of my mouth, I wanted to pull them back in. I don’t know what made me say it, but I wanted to unsay it immediately. “The look” was all I could see. It was on her face. I wanted to unsee it. I wanted to unsay it, but I couldn’t.
She overwhelmed me with apologies that were neither needed or wanted. I just wanted the topic to be over, and for it to have never happened. Since we have a week between seeing each other, I now have several days to contemplate the questions she is considering.
Sometimes I wish I wasn’t so open. The more genteel parts of my brain cringe when someone looks at me with the combination pity/entrancement that can come with people learning about my history of abuse and my brain.
It’s not that I don’t welcome questions, I do. I am even writing a blog about it (HERE!), but it’s the pity/entrancement look that feels past uncomfortable, but disturbing. Like all of a sudden you’ve been transported back into a carnival side-show of the 1800s, and YOU are on the stage with everyone staring.
These are the times I want to retreat. But I can’t. I have a talk to give in church tomorrow. So, no “mental health days” here. But I really want to take one. “The system,” My MEs, needs a day off. I need a cell away from everyone and everything where I can just take a day away and process all of it.
(Republished at https://www.theodysseyonline.com/humiliated-after-disclosing-mental-illness)
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