If there’s one thing I know for sure from the last year of blogging about mental illness and airing my dirty laundry for all to read, it’s that being vulnerable is a strength. Every time I hit “post” and share something I’d rather hide, I get a little braver and shame loosens its grip.
I write about my anxiety, postpartum and antenatal depression, and postpartum OCD without filter. But there are still things I don’t share about myself…out of fear of judgement, fear of being misunderstood, or just plain embarassement.
Well, today is the day I get brave. Here are five things I’m afraid to tell you:
1. I’m an atheist. My religious beliefs have evolved greatly over the years and include a 4-year stint of bible study and a Bible course in college. Growing up in the south, admitting to being non-religious meant opening myself up to judgement and proselytizing by folks who meant well but just didn’t understand. I am a good person with morals, no matter what my beliefs. And my philosophies and beliefs about life and religion are a big part of who I am, just as organized religion is a big part of other’s lives. People ask less up in the northeast which church you attend and the population is generally more diverse, but I still hold this truth close to my chest because I worry it will turn people off.
2. My temper sometimes gets the better of me. In person, and surely here at Learned Happiness, I appear calm and introspective. And I usually am. But I have also punched a hold in the laundry room door out of anger. I’ve ripped books, dumped a bottle of water on my husband while he was trying to sleep, and have thrown spaghetti across the room. Thankfully, this rarely happens anymore – therapy and medication have helped me manage the anxiety and OCD that lead to rage. But it’s there, under the surface. It’s like I’m the hulk. A very petite one.
3. I’m a little afraid of the dark. I *know* monsters aren’t real, and I don’t believe in ghosts, but I absolutely cannot hang my feet off the bed at night. You know, just in case something tries to grab me by the toes. And if I dare to be outside my house at night, which backs to up woods, I don’t walk…I run. It’s kind of embarrassing, really.
4. My OCD manifests as intrusive thoughts like “what if the baby falls down the stairs” and “I could just leave her in the car and have the house to myself.” I KNOW they are irrational and would NEVER act on them…in fact I’m always so horrified by them I think I am more careful with my kids than many parents…but it’s still hard to admit to them. Some people don’t understand PPD & PPOCD and I worry they would think I was a bad mom for having these thoughts.
5. I shave my toes. You know, when I actually get around to shaving. Otherwise, I feel like I have hobbit feet. I’m probably overreacting. Let’s not find out.
Bonus Thing: I take antidepressant and anti anxiety pills every day. Both are for the anxiety, so I tend to refer to them as my anxiety meds. Part of me feels like people are less judgmental of anxiety medication than antidepressants, so I hide the antidepressant a bit. And I hate when people call them “happy pills.” For me, they are my “normal pills,” something I need to be myself, just as a diabetic needs their insulin.
So. There you have it. I have properly embarrassed myself and probably turned off a few readers at the same time, but I am bound and determined to live a life of vulnerability and connection. And that means opening up.
I’m linking up with Farewell Stranger (whose blog layout and design I covet, by the way) today to be a part of a movement called Things I’m Afraid to Tell You. What started as a simple honest blog post by Jess Constable of Make Under My Life has spread like wildfire thanks to Ez of Creature Comforts, even making news on the Huffington Post. I am so grateful to be included and can’t wait to read the rest of the links! Head on over and get reading! There *should* be a linky widget thingy below (if I’ve managed to do it right, that is).