There are plenty of reasons why not to share your mental health story and one very important reason why to share your mental health story; the only way to really fight the shame and stigma of having a mental disorder is for us who have mental disorders to stop acting as if we are ashamed of our mental health status, i.e., hiding and protecting our mental health diagnoses like a dark secret or a skeleton in a closet. The mental health movement would be wise to follow our LGBT friends example. It is time for us to come out of the closet about mental health. In the end, it is the only way we will truly conquer stigma.
I have come to find that sharing one’s story is not only powerful but the most powerful tool one has to fight stigma. Therefore, I shout it loud and proud that I have borderline personality disorder and I am not ashamed. The more I say it too, the better I feel about myself. My goal is to show that there are real people behind the diagnosis who are not only decent, likeable persons, contradicting stereotypes but who are working hard to overcome their mental health challenges and be productive members in their communities and society at large.
However, if you are going to go public like me and use your suffering as a positive tool to advocate for ending stigma against mental disorders, it is best to stay mindful of the image you project as you are essentially setting a tone for your diagnosis or diagnoses in the public eye, so be aware of and intentionally work to counteract stereotypes. Write your story in terms of recovery, avoid going into detail about extreme behaviors/symptoms or sharing your story while dissociating, emotionally dysregulated, etc. Share while you are in your wise mind and always be aware and considerate of your audience. Even though stigma may cause you to become justifiably angry or frustrated, responding to these emotions is rarely effective at getting others to see your point of view.
Finally, if you are unsure whether your posting is appropriate for public consumption, remember this; if you would not feel comfortable with your parents, grandparents, or children (if applicable) reading your story, do not publish it online.