Lived experience blog: Disclosure
At the end of October Kit Connor from Netflix hit Heartstopper posted this on Twitter:
As an editorial team, it got us thinking about when we disclose the different parts of ourselves and when we don’t. How we are empowered in some situations by letting people know these details. And how in others, we don’t share because we don’t feel it’s relevant, or as a protection measure.
Ellie - Editor
Disclosure is an extremely personal decision to make, and it should always be the individual’s decision whether to share a piece of information about themselves. Unfortunately, this isn't always the case as we can see by Kit Conner’s post. Personally, it took me a long time to come out to my friends and family as a lesbian woman, but I had the privilege of waiting until I felt in a comfortable environment and suitable headspace to do so. Growing up with a homophobic father, I feared what people may think of me, and I was worried about encountering more homophobic people. However, this wasn't the case. I have been welcomed in the community with open arms, and even got to spend London Pride marching with Mind!
Chris - Staff/Editor
As a gay man with numerous trips to the counsellor for depression and anxiety, as well as having just been diagnosed with ADHD, every time I walk out the door I make a decision on what to tell people about myself through my actions words or clothes. I let my family know some aspects and let my friends know the real details. At Mind we are very open about feelings – 'bring yourself to work' - and that was quite a shock to the system when previous workplaces didn’t want to know or care. It took time to be comfortable and also reassess my own relationship with my mental health. I had to accept that depression, for me, is with me for the long haul.
As someone that regularly asks people to talk about their lived experience and give over their demographic information, it struck me as something important to reflect on. I see lived experience as a key part of continuing the cultural and social conversation about mental health and the other identities we all hold. But I recognise that I don’t always feel safe in myself or within a space to let people know about these identities. So for me, it’s always important to give options for people in what they disclose, and how they are involved, while also valuing the lived experience people do disclose. Every time I meet someone through this work I feel like I learn something, and I hope they feel like I, and Mind, value them in their contribution to hopefully making the world that much better. I’m not sure we have got this right all the time but I hope we are moving towards it.
Ellie - Editor
With Christmas and all the family gatherings coming it, you may be worried about other family members finding out about your sexuality – I know that this is something that has crossed my mind. It’s important for me to remember I feel comfortable in my own sexuality, and I don’t need the approval of others to feel this way. If somebody ‘outs’ you, whether that’s by accident or not, you do not need to confirm nor deny anything if you don’t want to. Simply explaining that this isn’t an appropriate conversation, or that you aren’t comfortable with the topic of conversation is enough. And remember you can always take some alone time throughout the day if you need it.
Having choice and control over your disclosure can be empowering. For me, setting and maintaining clear boundaries helps me to feel prepared while ensuring my own well-being is a priority. It's about owning when we disclose and when we don’t.