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On rainy days, my sister and I would play hide and go seek. I was really good at finding obscure places and squeezing into them. Once I hid in the coat closet in our front room. I put on one of my Mom’s trench coats and slipped into the shoes that were directly underneath. When “Nickel Pot” whipped the double doors open, I stood as still as a mannequin. She got close enough to where I actually could smell the grape juice that she always had stuck to her face.

Once, I told her that ants would come and try to eat the syrup off of her.

She poked around for a few seconds, sighed loudly, and then slammed the doors shut. I resisted the urge to pop out and say “I won asshole!”, but I decided to stay in there for a little longer.

As I grew older, I got good at hiding other things like booze from my parents and my first tattoo.

And then there was that one thing that I masterfully hid behind a beautiful ordinary smile. fakesmile6

Postpartum depression and it’s successor, bipolar disorder.

Coming forward and saying that you have a mental illness is not like admitting that you have diabetes or cancer. It’s one of those illnesses that dangerously teeters on a fine line between acceptance and rejection. The lack of societal awareness, education, and negative portrayals in the media contribute to the damaging stigma that prevents so many souls from reaching out for help. We are labeled as crazy, weak, psycho, deranged, violent, etc. which creates fear in the public. It’s this fear that makes mental illness not readily “worthy” of sympathy, support, and proper and timely medical care that other societal accepted illnesses like cancer receive.

Like you, we with a mental illness are also afraid.

We are afraid of our diagnosis, our treatment plan, and the uncertainty of our future. Above all that, I was more afraid of my loved ones reactions, possible rejections and labels.

That’s why I kept my personal hell hidden from my family (aside from my husband) for years. It took a tremendous amount of energy to control and supress the truth, but like termites, the illness ate away my being from the inside out.  It weakened me and my husband to the point where I finally realized that my survival depended on an army.

One day I blasted out of that proverbial closet and shouted, “I won assholes! I am just as crazy as those acid wash jeans that you decide to keep on wearing because they might come back in style some day!”

I was met with wide eyes, mouths agape, held breaths, and minds that scrambled to say something, anything that would be the least uncomfortable.

“I never knew,” they said.

“Why didn’t you tell me?

“So I should probably hide the kitchen knives and the stapler,” my younger brother said jokingly.

In the awkward silence that followed their initial reactions, you could hear their hearts and stomachs fall to the floor. But what rose up above the shock and their fear was immediate love, support, and acceptance.

For the first time in years, I could exist without the façade and I was able to cry.

I just didn’t know that it was always ok to do.

All I had to do was reach out of that closet.

From time to time, I will revert to my old comforting ways and hide the depths of my pain  in order to protect them from feeling worried, scared, overwhelmed, frustrated, or helpless.

But unlike my childhood days when I could squeeze myself into obscure places, my suffocating emotions can’t be hidden behind my beautiful ordinary smile.

They find me every single time.

Life is good

*If you are suffering from a mental illness, please do not travel this road alone. Put your hand out and you’ll be surprised at who grabs it.

 

 

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88 comments to Hide

  • I was never good at hiding my emotions so the friends that stuck around and the family that cares for me pretty much know what I’m going through… But I still haven’t told my mother. It hurts that I can’t tell her but I know that it will hurt more when I tell her and she uses it against me.

    I am so happy that your family was able to give you love and support when you “came out” to them. I know the bravery that it takes. props.

    [Reply]

    Kimberly Reply:

    @Lyla, My dad was the hardest person to tell because he ripped on my grandma and my uncle for being so weak and unable to just get over it. I think that this really changed his perspective especially when I was hospitalized last year. I think he finally understood how painful and serious this illness is.

    [Reply]

  • LOVE. <3

    [Reply]

    Kimberly Reply:

    @Tina, Love you right back

    [Reply]

  • And your smile IS beautiful. My son either a) hides in the same spot EVERY DAMN TIME or b) giggles inanely and then yells, “I right here!”

    [Reply]

    Kimberly Reply:

    @Arnebya, My son tells me where to hide. “Behind the tree.” and guess what?
    He finds me every time.
    He thinks he’s a magician.

    [Reply]

  • I have met so many wonderful people through blogging and you are one of them. Many of my blogging friends have suffered in silence for years with depression, bipolar disorder, and other things that they didn’t want the world to know. I’m so glad that you aren’t afraid and don’t have to hide now.

    I myself suffer from anxiety and depression on top of my ADD-which means that I can’t find anything and I’m anxious and depressed about it. I have to laugh about it, because if I don’t I’ll probably fall apart.

    [Reply]

    Kimberly Reply:

    @The Sadder But Wiser Girl, Humor is my saving grace…aside from drugs and my support system of course. While dealing with demons is very serious, you have to let that light heartedness in.
    I’m so glad that I met you too. xoox

    [Reply]

  • Huge hugs, sweet Kim. It was so hard for me to tell my family as well. So glad that you have the love and support you need from them.

    [Reply]

    Kimberly Reply:

    @Jenny, Gah…it shouldn’t be so hard to do it with the ones you trust most but it’s that stigma that holds so much of us back. I’m glad that you did reach out xoxo

    [Reply]

  • I saw that you were listed as one of the most influential blogs, and I nodded my head because it’s posts like this that really, really help people. It’s your bravery and sharing that could make a difference to someone else in a similar situation.

    [Reply]

    Kimberly Reply:

    @Nicole, I love you. I hope that I do too. Just one.

    [Reply]

  • I like you. I’m so glad you write posts like this for others to find.

    [Reply]

    Kimberly Reply:

    @Katie Sluiter, I kind of like you too :)

    [Reply]

  • I love you, Kim. I’m only good at hiding sometimes. I’m at a low point now, but working on it. changing meds. seeing my doc regularly.

    and it’s people like you out there who are so willing to be so transparent and honest and write about the reality of it all….that keep me feeling less ALONE.

    You are amazing. Inspiring. Strong. And I’m proud to know you.

    xoxo

    [Reply]

    Kimberly Reply:

    @erin margolin, I love you too and you are so wonderful with all that you do. Know that I’m always here if you need me. Always. xoxo

    [Reply]

  • I got really, really good at hiding too. I’m still good at it. Even to this day it’s become a habit. Sometimes I’ll share in a joking manner & if it’s accepted, I’ll share more. Other times people don’t want to hear it or they don’t know what to do with it so I just shut up about it. Those are the people I can’t relate to or have deep relationships with. Maybe that’s why I have a small, but deep, circle of friends. I’m happy that you did find loving acceptance once you shared your story. And I hope you’ve definitely found it in this community here on your blog.

    [Reply]

    Kimberly Reply:

    @Rach (DonutsMama), Deep circle of a small group of friends is a hundred times better than a big one and “surface” friends…if that makes sense?
    I use humor all the time to make it less uncomfortable. My family does that too. and it does help.

    [Reply]

  • I love the honesty from which you write. You know how much I love you and this is one more reason why! I’m not so good at hiding it and more scared than ever to actually go and get a diagnosis. Trying to find the strength to do it.

    [Reply]

    Kimberly Reply:

    @Krystal, Just do it. Do it. You don’t have to suffer this crud wishing that it will just go away because it won’t. You need tools and support. So go. Now. Nurse Kim said so.

    [Reply]

  • I hid my anxiety for awhile. The thing is it was always situational so it would come and go throughout life but never stay very long. I started to depend on that so much that the day it came and didn’t leave for a long while, I suffered in silence while showing it the door. And that didn’t help it to leave! Now it’s been years of acceptance and admittance and although it can lie dormant for years, I still seek regular treatment.

    [Reply]

    Kimberly Reply:

    @Tamara, I had experienced this before when I was a little girl only I didn’t know how to explain it. My mom took me to the doctor and he said it was heartburn. It eventually went away and didn’t come back until I had PPD.
    I’m glad that you’re able to accept because you’re not resisting and that helps you move forward to healing xo

    [Reply]

  • I love you – you’re a great inspiration

    [Reply]

    Kimberly Reply:

    @Jessica, Love you too woman

    [Reply]

  • Jen

    This is such a wonderful post, it really is. I am quite vocal about my battle with depression, and I have my narcissistic self-centered mother to thank for that. Believing I was crazy she sent me to a psychiatrist at a very young age, he quickly became my ally and he helped me to understand that things didn’t have to happen “to me”. No only as far as my depression went (which wasn’t made up) but also as far as my mother’s craziness went. So thanks to her, I am in a good place, and am always willing to be open and upfront about my issues with bi-polar, while my mother still hides and struggles with her’s.
    Keep talking about it. It helps so many people!

    [Reply]

    Kimberly Reply:

    @Jen, Things didn’t have to happen to me…yes…that.
    I’m sorry that you had to go through that but it was a good thing. you got help and you are on the right path for your soul. I’m glad that you’re open too. You keep on talking too :) xo

    [Reply]

  • I love you.
    You’re a badass warrior, strong and brave, an inspiration and beacon of hope for so many. xo

    [Reply]

    Kimberly Reply:

    @Alison, Love you too. And you just reminded me that beacon reminds me of bacon and I should go make some for the Dad.

    [Reply]

  • Rita

    Kim – I so understand how you are feeling. I shared my problems with my friends. They had been part of my life since I was 12. One is a doctor. They knew I was struggling. Knew I had gone “inside myself.” I got a few phone calls in the beginning, telling me how they would be there for me. That I could call on them. Yet when I attempted suicide and ended up in treatment, not one of the four called, visited or even sent me a card wishing me well. When I called them on it, in tears, they railed against me and ejected me from the one social circle that was keeping me going, at least in my imagination. It’s been my parents and my husband that have been there for me. No one else. My brother doesn’t even know – he thinks people with mental illness are looking for an excuse to be entitled. Today is my birthday. I’ve survived seven years this way. I just wish the people who once meant the most to me were still here to celebrate.

    [Reply]

    Kimberly Reply:

    @Rita, I sent you an email :)
    Did you get it?

    [Reply]

  • Rock star.

    I’m holding my lighter up in the air, over my head.

    You? ROCK, woman.

    [Reply]

    Kimberly Reply:

    @Sue – The Spin Cycle, Cell phone light. I like to prevent forest fires.

    [Reply]

  • This is such a beautiful and honest post. And the metaphor is extremely powerful; makes me introspect more than a little bit. Needed introspection, to be sure. Thank you.

    [Reply]

    Kimberly Reply:

    @Brian Sorrell,This place is cheaper than therapy. I only charge $50 per metaphor.
    I’ll send you the bill :)

    [Reply]

  • Wow. FIrst, well, wow. Amazing writing woman. And second, I am so glad that there were hands there to hold yours when you needed them the most. You are powerful and brave.

    [Reply]

    Kimberly Reply:

    @Kristi Campbell, Thank you so much. I almost puked when I told them. I told my friends through an email because I was so scared that they would turn away. I should have had more faith in our relationship. It’s just that being diagnosed is scary. People don’t understand it and talking about emotions is uncomfortable.

    [Reply]

  • That last sentence…I love it.
    I’m glad you have a good support system.

    [Reply]

    Kimberly Reply:

    @cyndy, Me too. I still hide the depths of what I am feeling…but they’re good at calling me out on it.

    [Reply]

  • I hid for a long time too. Feels good not to hide anymore.

    [Reply]

    Kimberly Reply:

    @Jennifer, Oh it is liberating.

    [Reply]

  • I’m so glad you have the support of your family, and that they are there for you. Posts like this must be so helpful to others. Stay strong and know you are loved.

    [Reply]

    Kimberly Reply:

    @Eva Gallant, It’s cheaper than therapy. Well in Canada it’s technically free and I only pay three bucks to park in his lot…which sounded super dirty right there.

    [Reply]

  • Love you and how you advocate through pain.
    xoxoxoxoxoxoooxx

    penis.

    [Reply]

    Kimberly Reply:

    @Leighann, Labia

    [Reply]

  • I’m so glad you have that support. xo

    [Reply]

  • Janet

    Wow,
    if this was my comment page, I would print it out and frame it, and
    feel like I never would have to do another thing for the rest of my
    life!

    But I hope you do (and I know you will), because you do help so many
    people with your honesty and brilliance.

    After I had my son, I had such massive panic attacks that I had to tell
    my family and those close to me, because I literally couldn’t sit down
    for the first 6 months. My husband, son, and closest friend helped me
    tremendously – I couldn’t have made it without them. I, who had been
    the Queen of Stoic, now felt like stopping people on the street and
    asking them, “What IS this? What happening to me?”

    Right now I am going through a recurrence of the anxiety, only (thank
    God) to a much lesser degree. My friend (who helped me before) will
    say, “So you’re crazy again”, and she helps me deal with it. I don’t
    mind being called crazy, because using dark humor helps me -

    Janet
    xoxox

    [Reply]

    Kimberly Reply:

    @Janet, Oh I had to chuckle about your friend. Mine is the exact same way. A few months ago when I was manic, I thought that my neighbor had installed a camera in this plastic owl she put up and faced my house.
    I called my friend, who is an RCMP and she said “Yes she did. Take your pills”…love her.
    You know that I am always here for you too right? I mean it. You’ve always been by my side and I can be and I will be by yours :)
    xoxo

    [Reply]

  • You make me proud to share. You’re my hero. Who says fuck a lot. And I love it.

    [Reply]

    Kimberly Reply:

    @Jess, I’m actually trying to tone down the usage of fuck. That was Shawn’s self imposed resolution for me.

    [Reply]

  • It’s so important not to hide any aspect of ourselves out of shame or fear. Your story is so inspiring and real.

    [Reply]

    Kimberly Reply:

    @Jessica Smock, It so is but so many people are afraid to because having a mental illness is so “taboo” and that is a shame.

    [Reply]

  • I’m glad you’re not alone. You are helping so many others not feel alone too. Beautiful words.

    [Reply]

    Kimberly Reply:

    @Rachel, Thank you so much :)

    [Reply]

  • I’ve very slowly let my family know I take meds for anxiety and depression… somehow, I don’t think they were at all surprised. Lol.

    [Reply]

    Kimberly Reply:

    @Nancy, HAHAH!!! I remember my mom opening the cabinet where I hide my medicine from Chase. She was shocked. She put her hand over her heart and gasped…shut the door and said “Dessert?”…

    [Reply]

  • It’s really scary to be honest about things like this. When I’m worried about something, I don’t talk to my husband or anyone else about it until I feel like I’ve figured it out. I gloss over things rather than dealing with emotions. Because emotions are gross, right? :) It’s something I’m still having to work on. I think I need to work harder.

    [Reply]

    Kimberly Reply:

    @Sanstrousers, Oh they are so incredibly gross and so very personal.
    I still hide the depths of my pain but only to protect them. I know it’s silly to think that way. I’m working on it.
    I do try to gloss it over too…like it will pass…it does but sometimes it lingers like my dogs fart in the air.

    [Reply]

  • I don’t think I ever actually told anyone that I had PPD, except my mom, and then my husband (the second time). I never realized that….huh.

    [Reply]

    Kimberly Reply:

    @Greta @gfunkified, Did you feel embarrassed or afraid. It is so much harder to hide it than to just shout that you have it. The support is amazing once you let all of those stigmas go. I’m sorry that this happened to you. xoxo

    [Reply]

  • All this. So true. I’m glad you’re out of the closet. xx

    [Reply]

    Kimberly Reply:

    @Robin | Farewell, Stranger, Peek a boo :)
    xox

    [Reply]

  • You really are an inspiration to so many that read your posts. You know that, right?

    [Reply]

    Kimberly Reply:

    @Ally, Sometimes :) I hope so.

    [Reply]

  • Oh,girl I want to hold you so tightly and thank you for this post! You have no idea what your words did to me. I feel that way when I had my PPD, heck, I didn’t even know that it had a name! Thank you for being you, thank you for speaking out for those who lost their voices in this battles. Love you, really love you!

    [Reply]

    Kimberly Reply:

    @Maureen | Scoops of Joy, See, that is why we have to talk about it. I think that when you’re pregnant, you’re focused on all the happy things. When the PPD hits, you think of being stressed as the root cause…I think that OB’s need to be better at assessing women before and after birth. So important.
    xoxo

    [Reply]

  • [...] PPPS Most poignant post in my blog inbox this week: Kimberly at All Work and No Play Makes Mama Go Something Something takes mental illness out of the closet in Hide. [...]

  • I’m so, so glad that you let down your facade; and I’m so happy to have “met” you. You are strong and brave, but you’re right – it’s also okay to cry, and you don’t have to hide when you do. xo

    [Reply]

    Kimberly Reply:

    @Kristin @littlemamajama, It was so hard to hide but I felt ashamed for not being stronger. Now I understand and accept that it had nothing to do with me. It doesn’t define who I am under all this muck.
    Ugly cry is a good thing. xox

    [Reply]

  • Thank you for this beautiful post. You are brave, honest, and an inspiration. Too many subjects are still cloaked in darkness- and that is not okay.

    [Reply]

    Kimberly Reply:

    @Stephanie @ Mommy, for real., Yes it totally is. Sometimes my husband cringes when I write so openly but I want to help people and teach people that this illness is just like any other and that it’s ok to seek help.

    [Reply]

  • Depression can ebb and flow, you can never tell when it will free more acute. We’re here for you chica.

    [Reply]

    Kimberly Reply:

    @Mrs. Tuna, It does. And you can’t control when it hits, you just control how you can move through it…sometimes…xoxo

    [Reply]

  • I loved this and I love you.

    [Reply]

    Kimberly Reply:

    @Lady Jennie, I love you too friend

    [Reply]

  • Oh, this is wonderful. It’s so much easier to be scared and hide away than it is to own it. I’m glad your family supports you so well!

    [Reply]

    Kimberly Reply:

    @Amber, It so is. So so is. I still find myself hiding the depths of how I feel but it’s to protect them and not me. If that makes sense. But they know. I think they are more aware and know what to look for in terms of my behaviours.
    I am very lucky.

    [Reply]

  • Love this. And you’re right, there is this terrible stigma about mental illness. I should have gone to therapy a LONG TIME AGO, but never did because it seemed like a sense of weakness. Like I should be able to figure it out myself, that it was my own thing and that no one else could help me with. Man, I wish I had gone sooner. I have gotten so much out of it it’s kind of astounding.

    [Reply]

    Kimberly Reply:

    @Marta, See, it is so awful that people don’t reach out because of the stigma…it’s looked down upon. I just wished that people knew that they didn’t have to suffer. That they can be helped.
    Sigh…
    I’m so glad that you reached out. xoxo

    [Reply]

  • I was pretty good at hiding too, in plain sight. I used to tell my cousins I was a leprechaun and that’s why they couldn’t find me cause I was magic. Recently I was informed that I’m bipolar that I’ve just been given a different label for it. Explains my ups and downs I guess.

    [Reply]

    Kimberly Reply:

    @Amanda Jillian, Have you ever seen that video on youtube about the town who claimed that there was a leprechaun living in a neighbor’s tree? Google it.

    [Reply]

    Amanda Jillian Reply:

    @Kimberly, looking it up now

    [Reply]

  • Brittany

    My parents and my sig. other have always known about my struggles with anxiety and depression. But I have never confided in friends, other relatives, or even my sister. I am most afraid of judgement from friends and relatives. I think about the gossip behind my back and them telling others that I’m not comfortable with knowing. With my sister, however, it’s more about protecting her. I’ve always been the strong, protective one (I’m much older) and I don’t want her to see me as weak. Now that we are adults I want to tell her but I keep putting it off. I just don’t want to change the dynamics of our relationship. I’ve become very skilled at hiding it but hiding it just makes the feelings of isolation worse. You are so brave!

    [Reply]

  • Awesome story! Thanks for sharing. What has been challenging for you may be an example that helps others. Either way, it must be a great relief not to have to hide anymore. :-)

    [Reply]

  • Hey there – inspirational post. so happy your family was/is supportive. peek a boo!

    [Reply]

  • Robert

    I don’t think people understand how much a simple statement can help others suffering with this illness. I know how hard it is to talk to others about this. Thank you – Thank you Thank you. The illness may go on but we are not alone.

    [Reply]

  • Thank you so much for sharing your story! Many of us internalize the belief that mental illness is our own fault rather than seeing it as another illness such as cancer.

    No one should have to suffer alone. I love the way you put it: “Put your hand out and you’ll be surprised at who grabs it.”

    Have you seen the Suicide Awareness Blog Day campaign starting in September? I thought you would be perfect for it! http://msw.usc.edu/mswusc-blog/invitation-suicide-awareness-blog-day-2013/

    [Reply]

    Kimberly Reply:

    @Gaby, I think that I responded to this but if I didn’t…I ‘m so sorry. Things have been a tad hectic. This is a fabulous idea and I would love to be a part of it! Thank you for sharing this with me

    [Reply]

  • Jenny

    Oh, my. Thank you for sharing your experiences in such eloquent and simple language. The fear of telling….the fear of stigma. Six years into this PPD battle, which has now been re-diagnosed as Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Major Depressive Disorder, I am finally to a place where I must seek other’s stories to learn that they have managed, that they will persevere, and be okay. Having 3 children and experiencing PPD with my SECOND child, it has been a battle to work, to advance, to be my best self. Thank you for writing about your experience. You have no idea the impact it has:)

    [Reply]

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