In my last post, I said I would soon be sharing more about myself. But first, I thought I’d talk about my perspective on the topic of using this type of venue. I’ve wrestled with this for a while – mainly because the idea of secrecy has been so engrained into my personality. I don’t know if I can call it secrecy or just being a private person. It is most likely a combination. I’m still becoming accustomed to all of the different mediums that people are using to reveal intimate details of their lives, and a year ago it would have been unfathomable to contemplate launching my own personal stories into cyberspace. I have trouble even responding to a friend’s Facebook post.
For the most part I believe the shift in public sharing has been a good thing, especially considering how much covering up and pretending people used to do. It isn’t as if they were always able to hide a family member’s or their own problems with alcoholism or mental illness. When it became impossible to hide, they were often ostracized and left feeling ashamed and disgraced.
I remember how strange it was the first time I heard about a celebrity with an addiction problem. As a young girl I was amazed to hear about Johnny Cash and didn’t understand what it meant. Was he sick? Was he a criminal? Was he a bad person? Now we’ve gotten used to and often expect to hear similar stories about many of our beloved idols.
Unfortunately, the downside of all this public sharing is that the pendulum has swung so far the other way that hearing about people’s personal struggles has become a form of entertainment. There are numerous reality shows that are making celebrities out of people who are willing to reveal their struggles with addictions and mental health issues, not in the form of documentaries but in the form of hit television shows such as Hoarders and Intervention, where treatment methods are often questionable.
I am conflicted about whether this type of media is helpful or hinders our ability to take these issues seriously. The answer may lie in the eyes of the beholder. For some, it can offer hope and inspiration. For others, it can be another way to ridicule and judge. I am definitely opposed to the most frequent trend of putting children and adolescents on reality shows, as I don’t believe they can fully comprehend the unintended and possibly negative consequences that come with all that publicity. It would be easy to pass judgment on people who agree to that format, but perhaps it gives them a sense of control in presenting their side of the story. I suspect that more often they are enticed by the offer of treatment and recovery when they are desperate, but can this promise really be kept when the primary purpose is entertainment?
It is easy to lose sight of our basic right to privacy in the current climate. Still, I wouldn’t go back to the kind of repression that was part of the not so distant past. It would be great to find a balance between protecting those rights and being able to connect and share our experiences in a respectful manner. Ultimately it comes down to one’s own personal comfort zone, and that is different for each of us.
I feel passionately about changing public perception about mental health issues, and by sharing bits and pieces of my own life, I want to offer hope and support to anyone who has gone through similar experiences.
So, stay tuned for my next post….