I know that “National Coming Out Day” was last week, but I didn’t think about writing this post until now, so better late than never.
First of all, no, I’m not gay.
But a few of my friends—not my “gay” or “straight” friends, just my friends—posted this last week on their Facebook pages, and I loved it. While I’ve never had to come out about my sexuality, I do have experience “coming out” about certain things, and it’s been about a year since I’ve done so on the blog.
Keeping It In
To try and summarize for those of you just joining us today, my name is Abby. I am a smart-ass with a lot to say, most of it funny and sarcastic, and I love that I can share my neurotic view of the world and myself with others through my tiny little piece of the Internet.
But I am also the face of depression/OCD and there is absolutely nothing funny and sarcastic about the days I feel like getting out of bed are tantamount to climbing a mountain with the weight of the world on my bony shoulders.
It’s real, it sucks, I’ll spare you the details.
So up until last year, I kept my blog to myself and strangers on the Internet, with people in “real life” completely oblivious to the fact that I had a blog at all. I wrote much more about those issues and focused on my struggles, something I wanted to keep out of my daily interactions with people.
But then last year I was approached by Deb to be a part of something amazing, a calendar to raise money for cancer research in memory of her father, a man who loved his daughter’s blog friends and the very world he lived in. It was such an honor—and such a personal cause to all involved—that I felt selfish keeping it from my own friends and family.
So I came out.
I linked a blog post up to my Facebook page, sent my mom a link and the rest is history.
Part of me thought it would suck, as exposing what others might perceive as a weakness or flaw to the whole World Wide Web can be daunting, but exposing what others might perceive as a weakness or flaw to the people you see on a daily basis can be even scarier.
Most people don’t understand the issues that me (and millions of other people) deal with, and I would never expect them to. Some equate being depressed or having OCD to being sad or wanting to wash your hands, which is about the rational equivalent of complaining to someone with no legs that you haven’t had a pedicure.
There is no comparison.
And while I’m not comparing coming out about one’s sexuality to my issues, for me, coming out was the start of living a more authentic version of myself. It gave me a chance to find a voice I forgot I had, or hadn’t let develop. It opened me up to relationships and a world outside my often crazy head.
It also opened me up to the realization that people might view me differently, that instead of being just Abby, I might be “disordered” or “depressed” Abby. While I don’t feel the need to explain myself for my decisions, I sometimes want people to see me as “just Abby” without a skewed perception.
So even though there are posts that are a personal, I try and keep it lighter here (I promise my next post won’t be this serious.) I like to laugh, not stew, and even though I don’t censor myself at all—that will never, ever happen—I’m more selective about what I share with the world now than I was a year ago.
Blogging’s an escape, but that doesn’t mean those issues go away.
I have equal days of good and days of struggling to tread water without drowning, of wondering why I can’t be “normal” on some relative scale.
But I’ve found a better way of thinking about it is not as a struggle to regain a level of health that the rest of the population never needs to work to achieve, but rather as hard work that results in a self-awareness and stability that most of the population are never forced to make the effort to achieve.
I’m stronger for my issues and for “coming out,” and realize now that the fear of doing so was much more about accepting myself than it was a fear of not being accepted by others.
So I tell you that I am the face/voice of depression/OCD/eating disorders, and I hope that you won’t see me as my issues—see poster above—but just as me. I am a smart-ass with a lot to say who takes things—the good and the bad—day by day.
I have issues.
So do you.
The don’t define us, but rather make us who we are today.
They can be an unexpected gift.
This post was also in response to the Studio30 Plus prompt:
The Unexpected Gift