So apparently I am obviously mental. That’s one explanation anyway.
I told Aunt E I took a trip to the nearby shopping centre because I also needed to visit the Medicare office to claim my Medicare reimbursement. I got the feeling she was slightly curious about why I needed to claim, but she didn’t ask for details, so I didn’t find the need to explicate.
What I didn’t anticipate was that she would be so curious that she would no, not ask ME why I needed to claim Medicare, but go and ask my Grandmother. In fact, she directly asked her whether or not I see a psychiatrist. If you’d like to know the answer, why not ask, umm, me? But then I gave it some thought and came to the realisation that if a person who had no mental health problems was asked that question, it would bring about a degree of awkwardness. The implication that the enquirer thought they were crazy enough to see a psychiatrist and all. I do not appear physically ill and so the conclusion Aunt E has come to is that I must be mentally ill, which is the only reason she can come up with as to why I would be visiting a doctor.
Well that’s just flawed. Surely not every physical illness is apparent from the outside? I sit in the waiting room of a GP clinic and I can tell you now, not everyone I see in the waiting room is obviously sick. Granted, I spend perhaps 30 minutes with the other patients in the waiting room whereas I see Aunt E everyday due to a common workplace. But still, her own two children have visited a dermatologist, one for acne and one for eczema, looking at my two cousins, I wouldn’t be able to tell they’re sick. Their skin doesn’t look that bad.
I found all this out because my Grandmother proceeded to ring my Mother, who then made this situation known to me. Both the Grandmother and Mother have advised me not to tell Aunt E I visit a psychiatrist, to keep my mouth shut. Oh dear, do they fear the stigma mental illness carries? That I will be judged within my own family? Who was it again that told me mental illness carries a stigma? …Oh yeah, Aunt E herself, funnily enough!
Being told to keep quiet about my mental health issues then prompts me to want to oppose their wishes, to shout it out loud. No, not for the sake of acting as a rebellious teenager, but because keeping the silence serves to perpetuate the stigma. I do not want it to seem as if I am ashamed of my issues. The paradox in this is that I am extremely reluctant to disclose to anyone in real life about my mental health issues. In truth, I am far too concerned of others’ thoughts and opinions of me, wary of the stigma. Another issue with Aunt E is that she is not known for keeping other people’s secrets. Not mental health related secrets, not family secrets nor any other secrets for that matter. It was through Aunt E that I found out a mutual workmate of ours suffers depression and takes medication for it. It is through Aunt E that I found out her husband attempted suicide, years ago. Am I keen on everyone knowing about my mental health issues, through word of hers? No, I am not.
So I suppose I will continue to hide my mental ill health and the fact that I see a psychiatrist from Aunt E, as per my Grandmother and Mother’s requests. I did however let Mum know that many of my friends DO know of my mental health issues and my visits to mental health professionals, in an attempt to convince both her and myself that no, I am not ashamed of my mental health issues. Okay, so the fact that my friends know has more to do with them accidentally finding my blog than me choosing to disclose this information to them by choice…but Mum doesn’t need to know that. 😉
I’m going to stick with the belief that the reason Aunt E suspects I see a psychiatrist is because I show a bit too much interest in the topic of mental health, I ask too many questions and I also volunteer for a youth mental health organisation. I did also tell our workmate I saw a specialist for an hour long appointment, stupid of me, what other specialist would see a patient for an hour besides a psychiatrist? The alternative is that I AM just obviously mental and she can tell. That doesn’t quite sit so well with me, so I am leaning more towards the former. So. I need to stop engaging in conversations about mental health, stop being so interested, stop being so curious. Curiosity killed the cat after all.