it’s too revealing

Today, I was offered a really interesting, amazing opportunity. Amy, a community leader for a health-activist community WEGO Health and also the creator of the blog Una Vita Bella, invited me to be a participant in creating a short video about mental health for WEGO Health’s new venture, WEGO Health TV. Basically, they’re creating a series of conversational web videos led by Health Activists for their online communities, and she wants me to be one of 3-4 panelists who’ll be featured in a video dealing with mental health. I got to see some example videos on their beta site, and the clips were just filled with honest insights from real people, which was refreshing to see. I was told that in addition to spreading word about health issues, the participants will be able to post them on their own sites and build their own brand. With these premises, I thought this would be an exciting chance to try something new. So, I sent Amy a note of acceptance.

While I’m still honored by the invitation, I neglected to think about one little thing before saying yes: the reveal of my true identity (or at least my name). But not just my name, but my identity being tied to this blog/journal. In my blog, I’ve been using the name “Yumers” instead of my real name, and I’ve been careful everywhere else not to tie my actual name to the blog. Most of me would like to link those two things together openly, but there’s a problem that I run into every time I think about doing that. That is, I do not want my parents and sister to know that I write this blog. There’s certainly the issue of my wanting to feel like I can write freely, but a more serious conundrum for me is that my parents do not know about some of the events that happened in my past, like the second suicide attempt—which is something I’ve talked about on the blog. Getting to be in this video would be something that I would love to tell my family, but I won’t be able to tell them about it because that would lead to their knowing that I have a blog that, (gasp), tells the bare truth about myself, instead of about cosmetic products.  I just feel like I’ve reached some sort of a juncture in my own blogosphere where I have to decide whether being my true  self, in name and all, is worth dealing with the fact that my family might find out that I’ve been out in this blogosphere for a while now.

I really, really want to be a part of this new project by WEGO Health and am still committed to being a part of it. But I am torn about having my identity exposed to the public, and quite possibly to my family.

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4 Comments to “it’s too revealing”

  1. What a difficult decision. I’m a documentary filmmaker who is personally in favor of as many “out” voices as we can get. People who’ve benefited from ECT face some of the most passionate negative cultural perceptions. I recently interviewed Kitty Dukakis (author “Shocked”) on ECT & recovering from depression & was stunned at how frequently she & her husband (former Massachusetts Gov Mike Dukakis) receive abuse for their position that all mental health treatments should be made available to those who struggle w/ these illnesses. I admire your courage in considering “coming out.”

    I am a documentary filmmaker who’s produced/directed two major television documentaries on mental illness – including a personal one for HBO on our family. The positive reactions & impact of the first-person stories in each film have been staggering. We’ve received countless emails thanking us since the first film was released 7 years ago – the vast majority describing tangible positive changes our films have engendered.

    In 15 years of also producing many videos featuring many dozens who’s lives have been touched by mental illness, and all but one of my “subjects” have been staggered by the long-lasting positive reactions and tangibly powerful impact of their stories. The negative outcome with this one interviewee happened about 6 months ago: the person’s profession was outside of mental health and they were looking for a new job. When he/she became a finalist for two potential positions, both employers Googled this person’s name as part of background checks. The first hits were for our videos with his/her interviews about bipolar disorder recovery. Both employers did not hire the person & both verbally conveyed (in different ways) their regret that they could not “risk” offering the position to someone w/ a history of instability. Illegal= yes. But near impossible to prove in a courtroom. We since re-edited the videos & web-references – either making the identity anonymous or deleting his/her presence and now Googling their name does not result in psych references.

    I wish you all the best with your decision. Know that, if you do “come out” you are doing our mental health advocacy community a tremendous service (no pressure intended…)

    Katie Cadigan
    http://www.whenmedicine.org
    http://www.peoplesayimcrazy.org

  2. Hi Yumers,
    I understand your dilemma COMPLETELY. I am a doctor and have significant depression, for which requires regular hospital admissions and ECT and visits to specialists, all of who I have to also deal with on a professional basis. My regular psychiatrist is going away on leave and has arranged cover with a colleague, who also happens to sit on a committee that I am on. Awkward!
    Similarly, I live 2000km away from my family and most of them do not know anything about my depression and certainly not my ECT or suicide attempts and I can understand your “cosmetic” conversations with your family as mine can be quite similar.
    I have no solutions to this problem and hope that the people I deal with when I am unwell remain professional and ensure my confidentiality. But I live in a smallish town and am an active member of the medical community when I am well, so it is very difficult for me.
    My family remain somewhat oblivious, and I prefer it that way. Some members of my family know the whole story but definitely not my Mum as she would really really not cope.
    Good luck with your decision. Keep us informed!

  3. Such fabulous comments here.

    As you know, I am in support of your decision, whichever way you decide to go. I am happy to be able to offer the opportunity to raise our voices together in a different way, but I understand your concerns as well. There is nothing but support for you on this end!

    I love to read these comments and see the solidarity and comfort that we find in each other, others who have battled these same issues and the stigma. I just wrote a post the other day on WEGO Health about my “secret” about sharing my secrets online, the secret is that I get scared. I get scared of the backlash that I may face one day, I get scared of the stigma I may face. But ultimately, I decide that I am better off for doing it and my hope is that the world is somehow too… it can still be scary, though.

    Again, support for you either way, you have to do what is best for you!

  4. I am a friend of Amy’s from WEGO and initiated this particular discussion of psychotherapy. I am so glad I did, because this discussion is wonderful, intelligent, and so honest! I have battled depression a few times in my life, and was hospitalized twice, so I understand how disabling it can be. I also understand your concern about privacy, Yumers. As a victim of sexual abuse I protected my family well into my 40’s, and it wasn’t until I was abused by a therapist and ended up in a hospital again that I vowed to resign as ‘keeper of the secret.’ I realized that keeping the secret was almost as damaging as the initial abuse. My family responded with love and support…and repentance. Still, I am careful about being too detailed when I share my story because I have no desire to cause my family embarrassment.
    I completely understand your dilemma, but SELFISHLY wish you could join the video conversation. Whatever you decide, I am glad to have met you here, and hope to get to know you better.
    Jamie

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