“PTSD is a whole-body tragedy, an integral human event of enormous proportions with massive repercussions.” ~ Susan Pease Banitt
Facebook reminded me last week that it was four years to the day since my mental health coming out party.
Or as I titled the event at the time my Taking Down My Christmas Tree Party.
Because despite it being April I hadn’t yet taken down my Christmas tree. Because my mental health problems meant that I just couldn’t summon the energy or motivation.
It was suggested by A Lovely Mess – read her blog.
The idea was to tell people that I’d been ill, and explain why I’d been flaky and absent for the last six months by inviting them in to see how the world looked from my point of view. And to ask them for help.
So my guests took down and packed away all my Christmas decorations. There were store bought cupcakes instead the of the home cooked buffets that I used to make for gatherings, as well as a giant cupcake cake, and there were different varieties of tea instead of alcoholic drinks.
And it helped. I think.
Creating the event on Facebook meant that I didn’t actually have to tell anyone what had been happening, it was all there in the event description:
“As some of you might know already I’ve been quite unwell lately with depression and PTSD. This has meant that I’ve spent most of this year hiding in my house being crazy and so not getting to see much of you lovely people.
It’s also meant that I just haven’t had it in me to get around to taking down my damn Christmas tree. And if I have to look at it much longer it’s in danger of driving me the rest of the way insane.
But I’m told that I’m allowed to make a party out of all this. So I am inviting you all to come and help me take down my Christmas tree. That way my tree will be gone, and I will actually get to see you.
I will provide virgin cocktails, as I’m not supposed to be drinking for the time being, but you can bring alcohol put in them if you like. There will also be cupcakes. Just because I feel like there should be.”
And by attending people showed me that they weren’t scared by it. Or if they were they at least weren’t so scared as to reject me for it or not to come to my flat.
And I finally got that damned Christmas tree taken down.
That wasn’t the end of the coming out process of course – it only covered my closest local friends, and then only as many as would fit into my bijou apartment at once.
And I still have to, and will have to, find the best way to approach telling people who didn’t know me four years ago.
But I thought it was worth mentioning because the best way to tell people about things might be to set it around a pleasant but manageable activity rather than having to face a series of daunting conversations.
How has anyone else handled telling their nearest and dearest about their mental illness?