The Thing About Secrets
After 15 years of staying silent, I’m here to talk about shame, stigma and secrets. As many of you know, I recently shared my story of keeping the secret of my late husband’s mental illness and suicide.
For me, that secret was like having a huge, open wound that I tried to cover up, figuring that if no one knew, they wouldn’t treat me differently. It was so painful but I didn’t want to deal with people’s judgments or questions, and I didn’t want to be a burden on those close to me. So, I did my best to “be strong” and pretend it wasn’t there. I justified it any way I could. I tried to create distractions by focusing on having perfect hair, makeup and clothes. But the thing about untreated wounds is that they’re impossible to ignore. I had learned to live with the pain, but it had weakened me and left me open to illness, later turning into anxiety and depression.
Secrets and shame, like many other wounds, need open air to heal. Things changed drastically for me once I began to share my story and ask for help. My wounds were treated properly, I received the support I needed from loved ones, and my healing is well underway.
If you are keeping a secret because of shame and the fear of stigma, please reach out to someone who cares. If you don’t know who to turn to, please reach out to me. We are all in this together.