I’ve just been writing a Facebook note to a student of psychiatry. He referred to my "bravery" in being open about my mental health.
"Thanks. It’s good to know who you are. I have a memory that doesn’t work all that well and I don’t remember noticing who was behind the stigma page on Facebook.My "bravery"? Ummm. I don’t really see it that way - but I think I know what you mean. I’ve written a lot about the benefits I’ve gained from telling people that my mental health is vulnerable to bouts of severe depression. I’ve gained a lot from such openness about my bouts of depression:
(1) the relief of being straight with people
(2) the relief of finding out that so many others have experienced depression
(3) the incredibly interesting conversation with others
(4) work & money because I have got work from people who have built rapport with me around shared experience of mental health issues.
And I think I could add to this list if I delved deeper into my experience. Not that I always saw it that way.
I had my own journey towards this attitude: from fear to almost complete comfort with my experience. I wouldn’t have got into this state of mind without wonderful support from others. There have even been psychiatrists who have helped me - sometimes by showing me how not to treat people. Good luck with the career.
This is a crazy thing to say but I have the thought that it might be good for all psychiatrists to have a breakdown in their own mental health - so that they might become really good at listening to those who come in search of help. Not that I’d wish anyone to have reached the depths of despair I’ve experienced."