The author on why he chose to “out” himself despite what other people might think.
A couple friends have asked why I “outed myself” in this blog. Wasn’t I afraid people would blackball me at work? Don’t I worry that I’ll be defined by my struggle with OCD above all else?
It’s a fair question.
First, let’s get the notion of “courage” and “bravery” off the table. Some have used those words to describe what I’m doing, and I appreciate that. But I really don’t think it’s that. Like I’ve said before, my grandfather parachuting behind enemy lines at the start of the D-Day invasion was courage.
I’m doing this more because the point arrived where, for the sake of my own sanity, I had to start being myself as openly and honestly as I can. Honesty can be tough for people who deal with mental illness and addiction. [More on this in “The Liar’s Disease“] But I decided I had to do better.
Admittedly, some of the motivation is selfish. We OCD types have overdeveloped egos and tend to go digging for attention. It’s hard to admit that, but it’s the truth. Being open about that forces me to keep myself in check. It’s also an invitation for those around me to call me out on acts of ego and selfishness.
The biggest reason for doing this, without question, is my Faith. I realized some time ago that when you rip the skeletons from your closet and toss them into the daylight, they turn to dust. Big sinister stigmas become very small indeed. Then you can move on.
I didn’t arrive at that viewpoint easily. It took many years of dirty work.
With my Faith comes a need to do service for others. In this case, I accumulated experiences that might be of help to other sufferers. Sharing wasn’t exactly something I wanted to do. It’s something I HAD to do.
We’re all in this together. Many good people have helped me along the way. Trying to help someone else is the very least I could do. In the final analysis, we all help each other.
Getting it all out of the head and into this blog has certainly been helpful, so thanks for indulging me.
Was it a risk to my career to do this? I don’t think so.
I don’t think I’d be doing this if I still worked for The Eagle-Tribune. The culture of that newsroom wouldn’t have allowed for it when I was there. I have no idea if the culture has changed, but I suspect not.
I’ve gotten a ton of support from those I work with now. I’m definitely lucky to work with the folks in this office.
Does that mean everyone should put their demons out in the open as I have?
Difficult to say.
It’s not going to be the right decision for everyone to make. There are a lot of honorable reasons for people to keep their demons private. In many cases, the veil is what you use to protect others as well as yourself.
But my veil blew away in the storm that was my life. Walking forward without it was all I could do.