I really debated about this post for a while. Not the writing of it, I have come to a place in my life where that was just a given. But I wasn’t sure if I should post it here or to my personal blog, because, while I do post pieces of myself on here, I try very much to keep things aimed more at an audience, and write pieces that many people can relate to.
Two things tipped the balance in favor of Canvas. One, my blog is not strictly a mental health blog, and this is really more a mental health issue. Two, I realized that while it is an incredibly personal thing to write, ultimately most people dealing with mental health issues will face it at one time or another.
So, I have decided to pull back the curtain on me and my life.
I am the reverse of so many mental health bloggers. Everyone in my life, from my family to the Beauty Ambassadors at my local Bare Escentuals, knows of my mental health struggles. Since I came to terms with the fact that this was something I could not tackle on my own more than half a decade ago, I have been an open book about it. To me, there was never any stigma attached. I have brown hair and blue eyes and great taste in music and bipolar disorder, and I deal with a host of other mental illnesses.
I’ve had reactions of mild surprise, reactions of curiosity, reactions of understanding and empathy, and reactions of support. Never did anyone back away from me, or shield their child’s eyes like they used to do with witches.
But I have kept my identity very much a secret online. Part of this is just good common sense, but another part was an intense case of paranoia. As the paranoia has been brought into check for the most part, here goes.
My real name is Stephanie. I prefer not to disclose my last name (that’s just common sense), and I would prefer if you would still address me as Ruby. I have found that moniker a comfortable and freeing one to write under. I am 31 years old, and I live approximately in Denver, CO, USA. I could give you a more precise location, but with the urban sprawl there are so many cities that fit into the designation of “the metro area”, so it really wouldn’t mean much to most of you.
I don’t really know what I’m supposed to put in this post that I haven’t already said before. I have a very loving and supportive family, I have good friends, I currently do not have a job and am on disability.
I have three girls whom I like to refer to as the “daughters of my heart”; two of them I used to nanny for and the youngest is one of their sisters.
As I said, I’m not sure what I should be disclosing here. Feel free to ask questions in the comments, and I will feel free to answer them or not (but never fear, you won’t make me upset). The point of this post is mostly just to show everyone who reads it that I really and truly am willing to say, “This is me, this is all of me, take it or leave it.” I won’t say f*ck you to ignorance and stigma, because I want to educate people. I want to do what I can to reduce and eliminate misconceptions and misunderstandings. I don’t want my children, or anyone else’s, growing up seeing mental illness as something that must be hidden, or discussed only in hushed voices with certain people.
I want change, and that doesn’t come easily. It may seem like extreme comparisons to some, but look at the civil rights movement, look at women’s lib. Neither of those issues got to where they are without making a whole lot of noise (and neither of those battles are even near to over). A lot of people with mental illnesses can’t take the stones they will be hit with by “coming out” about their struggles and diagnoses, which I get. But I can. And as someone who is strong enough to deal, I am happy to be a lightning rod. I’m not sure yet what my role is meant to be, but I can guarantee you that it’s going to be a loud one.
So here I am. If you ever recognize me on the street, please don’t hesitate to come and say hello to me.
© Ruby Tuesday and A Canvas Of The Minds 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ruby Tuesday and A Canvas Of The Minds with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.