I went to pick my son up from school this afternoon and had a conversation with a group of mothers all waiting for their children. I noticed that one in particular (one of the few I have directly told about my treatment for post natal depression) did not or would not make eye contact with me. This is a lady who I have known since the preschool days, who I have shared coffee with and would consider to be a friend.
Now perhaps I’m paranoid , or perhaps she was having a bad day but the incident made me question my openness about my illness. In fact my openness in general. I am usually a very outspoken, open person. This is not by design or choice, it’s just who I am. I find talking through (or blogging through) my ‘stuff’ extremely cathartic. It’s just that I hadn’t really considered the down side of this until recently.
Putting aside my mental health problems I have always been very open about my life. Sharing personal information with friends, family, the checkout lady in wait rose (not really obviously I dont shop in Waitrose). I have always felt that by sharing my experiences I might help someone. Make someone else’s experience feel more normal. End stigma. Stop judgement.
Without getting too preachy I just want to live in a world where difference, quirkyness, awkwardness etc are ok. Where if you love Star Trek and have to wash your hands five times in a row before leaving the house, your not a freak. If you like football, a pint down the pub, and binge eat, your accepted. Step outside of your comfort zone and have a chat with someone completely different to you. You might even enjoy it and make a new friend.
I will continue to be open and honest about who I am, it makes me vulnerable but I don’t think I could have it any other way. If my mental health problems, or the fact that I am rubbish at small talk make you uncomfortable then I’m sorry. Perhaps you could look at why you ask people “how are you?” if you don’t really want to know the answer.