Coming Out On Top

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.

poster

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.

Coming Out

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.

quotableequal

They can be an unexpected gift.

This post was also in response to the Studio30 Plus prompt:

The Unexpected Gift

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31 responses to “Coming Out On Top

  1. I ended up posting my blog on FB pretty early, which was a really tough thing to do. I just kept thinking about people I knew in high school and haven’t talk to in years, all of a sudden getting this intimate glimpse into my thoughts and my life… even though I was letting complete strangers do the same thing. But for some reason it’s much less daunting to let people that have never met you “in”, so I totally get what you’re saying. I non-gay love you. 🙂

  2. I couldn’t agree more with everything you’ve said here, Abby. I struggle with this as well.

    – We cannot be defined by one word.
    – The words we attempt to define ourselves with have multiple meanings.
    – The fact that those meanings change from person to person make it difficult to open up.

    Sorry, I like bullets!

    I just think that sometimes it’s easier to never talk about our “issues” because we don’t want to add any sort of stigma to how others see us. There’s a flipside to the coin, though, because by opening up we can gain support (at the risk of stigma).

    • Agreed, and I always love your comments. I think my issue was that I don’t write about my stuff anymore and switched my focus to something I DID really want to share with others, but knew all the other stuff from my past was on there as well. Like you said, I gained so much support. Plus, we worry about people’s reactions to things much more than they probably worry about our stuff.

  3. I’m afraid to come out – this post has been helpful. At times I want to blog about it so badly…….I have met the stigma head on and had someone tell me I couldn’t do something because I was “mentally ill” – she spoke the words slow and loudly. I’m at a low point now too…… seasons changing?

    • I’m glad this post was helpful, if only so you can know you’re not alone, which you aren’t. To be honest, most of the “crazy” people I’ve met have a far more authentic sense of self and compassion than the “normal” people. You know the person that you are and nothing anyone else can say should affect your confidence or your spirit.

  4. I saw the “gay marriage/marriage” poster in my reader and came here to read about that (I LOVE it, by the way, and I think it was posted more by my straight friends than my gay friends! <– only using the labels to illustrate the awesomeness of people). 🙂

    anyway, I was expecting a different read… and I got to know you more. having a diagnosis I do not want people to define me by, I completely understand. and I see you as intelligent, witty, snarky and sweet. yep, all of that. I am not going to "feel sorry for you", and I do empathize your bad days – I hope that makes sense?
    XO

    • Perfect sense, and totally my point. The “feel sorry for me” crap never crossed my mind, as that’s the last thing I would ever think about. Like I said, we all have issues–or a diagnosis–that don’t define us. Quite honestly, I think we’re all just kind of awesome, which is totally what defines us, no? 😉

  5. Great writing, Abby. You already know I think you’re crazy in the best way possible so not much more to say.

    And serious posts? They happen. Sometimes it’s your best writing so don’t censor.

  6. I did not know that – Nice! (the going public part, not the suffering from depression part, that is not so nice of course.).

  7. I talk about serious stuff on my blog a lot. But I struggle so hard to avoid ever saying concrete details or labeling what is wrong for fear that someone might find it and – unbeknownst to me – start to view me differently. But I’ve found the more personally invested I get in the blog the harder it is to do this and the more uncomfortable or embarrassed or just self-aware I am of how much effort I put into beating around the bush. So I just wanna say that I am incredibly awed by how you manage to so eloquently represent your potential “labels” without being defined by them.

    • While I appreciate your sentiment, there’s nothing to be “awed” about at all 😉 I admit it’s hard to know that others probably do look at me in a different way, but that’s not always a bad thing. I’ve found that more people can relate than I thought, and even if they can’t, they’re usually too involved in their own stuff to really care about my crap. It’s exhausting to try and hide who you really are, and just because you might be struggling with something right now doesn’t mean that’s how you’ll be forever. I hope you find your balance.

  8. I had no idea it was coming out week. I should come out as a closeted Britney Spears fan. (I know, gasp).

    Anyhow, I love that you “came out” but I wonder if this has made you a little less candid. I know you say you’re just tired of the some of the crap, but I feel like a part of you just doesn’t want the people reading to associate that with you. I don’t mean to sound like a total bitch. I’m just wondering. Cause to be honest, I get worried about that myself. I post all this shit about my issues and I meet my family friend for brunch and suddenly she asks me if I’m scared of ordering regular coke.

    I should also mention that although I’m straight, if I were gay I don’t think I’d be into Britney. That love is purely because her songs get stuck in my head. She looks like she might be kinda sticky.

    • You’ve been around me from the beginning, so you’re probably right that I’m less candid. I went from writing posts like a journal entries to writing posts more like short essays/satires/etc. Those are two completely different things, and I feel like the last year I’ve finally been able to actually “write” like the writer I was/am instead of impulsively spewing out stress. Being in that part of my own head gets boring, so I want to write about the interesting things that I think instead. 😉 But yes, I also don’t want to be associated with that stuff. It’s not really “me” anymore, and while I’m not ashamed of it, I don’t want it to define me.

  9. Great post! It took me months to come out to my mother as a blogger. She considers herself a REAL writer. I was afraid that she’d never understand.

    At first, it was tough for her because there are plenty of posts that kind of poke a little fun at her (and our mother/daughter relationship), but she’s finally over that.

    I’m so glad you can be the face and voice of depression/OCD/eating disorders because someone needs to be that face and that voice. And you carry that role with depth and grace.

    • My mom is my biggest fan, and I’m sure she was kind of weirded out at the posts like you mentioned, but in a way that kind of helped. Sometimes it’s a lot easier to communicate on a page than in person–with anyone. 🙂 And I don’t know that I want to be the face of anything, to be honest. But I think it’s important for people to realize that everyone has a story.

  10. wow, I am crying and applauding you here alone in the office. Abby you are a hero of mine, in writing and in the way you choose to live your life. I couldn’t be MORE proud to know you than RIGHT now, reading this 🙂
    xo

  11. A friend of mine who read post I did last week about both coming out (not me, my friend) and OCD Awareness Week sent me the link to this post.

    I’m so glad you “came out” about your illness. My friend hid both parts of her for a long time. Now there is a weight lifted I can almost see because she’s not only out, but she’s an advocate for OCD.

    I completely agree with the quote above. I might have to borrow it.

    I think all blog writing changes from when we first start. I know mine was initially more of a report to my family – the only people reading it. It was also an outlet for stress. As I continued it morphed into what it is now.

    I’ll be sure to go back and read more of your story.

    Thank you for posting about this.

  12. I loved that Facebook gay marriage thing too.

    I too tried to keep my blog from some of the people (although not all, I selectively block the URL on my Facebook from a few people) in my real life. I wasn’t going to tell my mother, but before I’d even been blogging a month, my husband blabbed about it in front of her. Now she’s a regular reader and it’s totally fine.

    I’d still rather not have work people know about it, but I’m not Facebook friends with colleagues anyway. I’m still blocking a few of my friends from it and quite frankly that’s caused me to really think about the reasons why in a way I think has been helpful. I’ve had to admit I’ve been carrying around not very supportive friendships and that’s been a painful but necessary point of growth for me.

    I struggle with balancing my desire to be authentic and candid (I don’t want to self-censor either) with my desire to protect myself.

  13. You’ve certainly come a long way, Abby, and I’m proud of you for it. You may still struggle with issues, but coming out about it portrays strength and self-acceptance.

    Most people I know, know about my blog. I don’t go around parading my issues. To be honest, I would rather keep them hidden because they don’t define me, but when my friends know about my past, they understand me with more depths, and it’s amazing the conversations that open up when just one of us “come out.”

    • I guess I should clarify, as I agree with your comment 100 percent. I shared my blog last year not to parade my issues or really make them known to anyone, but because I wanted to share all the other stuff I wrote/the other parts of me and knew the health stuff was on the blog for anyone to find. It was a matter of wanting to share something/have relationships more than wanting to keep those other parts of me a secret. It is what it is, so thank goodness we can all move forward 😉

  14. It’s very cathartic to write about topics such as OCD and depression, and other ‘issues’ that are laced with such stigma. The more people read about it, the more they will understand. Mental health is often hidden behind closed doors, and for me at least, it’s heart warming to know that people like you are ‘putting it out there’. I have struggled with OCD and anxiety in the past, and it still often flares up. My mum also battled with depression her entire life, and sadly took her own life 11 years ago – I decided to write about it, and share my experiences – it really helped.

    Thank you, Abby. Keep up the writing!

  15. You and I are so similar. Everytime I have something to say that serious or deeply personal or just not overtly funny, I stop myself.

    I know folks come to my place to read fiction, listen to music and hear about my crazy family life but I want to talk about stuff that’s dear to me too.

    My anxiety disorder combined with my issues with aging (check back with me on that one) aren’t compatible with incurable smartssness and the funny.

    I related to this a lot. You’re awesome.

  16. Errrgh, the first part of my comment didn’t show for some reason…

    Here it is:

    Hey Abby! Thanks so much for posting this, it’s something I’ve been pondering for quite some time. I have two blogs, one of them is very secret and is where I post my more ‘deep’ writing. Recently, I started posting it on my regular blog (something I deliberated about for quite some time before doing so). The reaction I received was surprising – my blog readers responded positively to it (albeit the occasional ‘oh stop being so moany’ comments).

  17. Great post. It’s really scary revealing ourselves not only online but anywhere. I’m still pretty careful about what I put out there. It’s funny because since I’ve been throwing around the idea of putting together a book of essays, I feel as though I may need to be more open.
    I too have dealt with depression and OCD all my life. There are amazing medications out there that can totally change your quality of life. Chocolate helps too.

  18. Wow.. this is interesting and it is hard reavaling about yourself to people not just online. Great post and i truly can relate to it. 🙂

  19. Big big kudos do to you for standing tall and ‘coming out’. Maybe by doing so you will inspire others and help others who can relate to your words. I applaud you, I really do!

  20. In my book, you aren’t disordered Abby. You are courageous Abby.

  21. Blogging has been a “coming out” experience for me as well. Terrifying. I was across that friends and family would be disturbed or see me differently or permanently label me, not on purpose, just because once you know something you cannot un-know it. But people have been so supportive and even proud of me. Didn’t expect that! So I feel ya, sistah! Takes real guts to share your truth with your immediate world. Brings everything up and out and there you are. Perfectly imperfect.

  22. Pingback: The unexpected gift |

  23. Melanie The Spork Lover

    I just started reading your blog today and you have a new regular reader I dare say! I, too, suffer from OCD among other things and am very open and honest about it. Glad you were able to “come out.” It’s a pretty freeing thing not trying to be secretive about it. The blog is great!

  24. I can’t believe I somehow missed this before…but wanted to say that I’m extremely glad that you came out! 🙂

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