Self-Disclosure: Boon or Bust?

After reading an autobiography I’ve changed my mind about self-disclosure. Is self-disclosure a boon or bust?

Some food for thought on the pros and cons of telling others about your mental health history:

You must decide in the context of your own life what makes sense. In my view other people can feel burdened when you dump on them the details of your diagnosis as a matter of course. In the workplace it adds a layer between you and the other person.

On the other hand having a mental health challenge might give a person the reliability, consistency, and persistence to carry out their work and life goals on and off the job.

Stereotypes exist about people diagnosed with schizophrenia. This is why I make the case that a peer’s identity should not be defined by our symptoms. It places us in a diagnostic box that is hard to get out of. Unless you have a job in an evolved workplace where people are open-minded.

Seeing beyond diagnosis to the person inside is the goal as I see it. To “smash the stereotype” peers should act true to ourselves as individuals.

Like the leaders in The Queer Advantage it comes down to the fact that those of us who have struggled are often able to persist despite the hardship.

The skills, abilities, and strengths we use in recovery are the traits that give us the ability to succeed on the job.

My LinkedIn Profile refers to my memoir Left of the Dial. My story is out in the open this way on LinkedIn the professional networking site.

The trend going on now is for peers to tell our stories. I ask you though: does everyone in the world need to know every detail of our symptoms and illness? In my memoir I only gave readers what I talked about in the poem on the first page: some of me.

In this regard I was a fan of Brene Brown and her work on vulnerability. You need to trust the person you disclose to.

How will they use this information after you give it to them? My friend Robin was denied a promotion when a coworker he disclosed to tattled the diagnosis to a supervisor.

This is the reality in the often shark-tank world of corporate business.

On the other hand like said there can be an advantage to having a disability. Maybe a book should be titled The Mental Health Advantage.

Mental illness should not remain a taboo subject to talk about. A friend referenced me in giving a talk on a show about Italian culture. Referring to how I have come out about my experience in the way LGBTQ+ individuals are boldly talking about their lives.

The bottom line: our diagnosis does not define us. We need to define ourselves–or someone else will do this for us.

Who is Christina Bruni? I’m a Girl on the Left living her life Left of the Dial. My favorite color is green. I’m gregarious and down-to-earth.

Who are you? The world needs you and your gifts. Be not afraid to act true to yourself.

It’s your choice whether you disclose and what you tell people.

The Italian American writers’ group I belong to has a quote that sums this up well:

Only silence is shame.

Until mental health becomes a front-porch topic talked about over a glass of lemonade the secrecy will continue to breed fear and ignorance about what it’s like to live with a mental illness.

Author: Chris Bruni

Christina Bruni is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir Left of the Dial. She contributed a chapter "Recovery is Within Reach" to Benessere Psicologico: Contemporary Thought on Italian American Mental Health. As well as an author and activist, Bruni is an artist and athlete.

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