All throughout my life, a significant part of my personality was (and still is, sometimes) getting thorough enjoyment out of saying something shocking or controversial, but always true. I find when my mental health is not doing so well, I seek out conflict. Saying shocking and controversial things that were true was fun to me because so long as what I was saying was true, I would have an advantage in the ensuing conflict.
In this conflict-seeking, I liberally disclosed to family, friends, acquaintances, even strangers that I was schizophrenic. The truth in this particular shocking/controversial topic that kept me safe in my mind was that even though schizophrenics are “crazy,” I knew I was mostly a normal person. I loved that people would get slightly apprehensive or afraid around me. I knew the misconceptions attached to schizophrenia.
As I became healthier, I would disclose my illness less for shock factor and more out of habit. During this time, I came to realize that people are less afraid, and actually more open. People have and continue to open up to me about their problems with mental health, whether it be them or a loved one. Some of them seem like they are already open about it, while others quiet their voices and look over their shoulders.
The openness didn’t end there, though. They would open up about other things personal or special to them. It’s as if we were long-time friends catching up on intimate parts of our lives. When this happens, many people stop themselves and apologize for over-sharing. I personally don’t mind. I enjoy that I can essentially make friends with many people almost instantly by simply stating an undeniable fact about myself.
Disclosing my schizophrenia has become a wonderful social hack. And what better type of person for this social hack to work on? A schizophrenic. We often starve ourselves of social interaction, further spiraling ourselves into insanity. By disclosing our struggles, we instantly form a meaningful connection with almost anyone. It can be therapeutic, a way of healing by simply saying a few words. We learn about other peoples’ struggles and find ourselves no longer alone in this messy thing called life.
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