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I Would Rather be Rejected for Who I am, than Accepted for Who I'm Not

Being accepted by others begins with accepting ourselves as we are. When we are able to present our true faces to the world, then we allow ourselves to be truly accepted by others, flaws and all. If we mask or hide ourselves, we are never going to find true love and acceptance from others.

This morning, I got a comment on another piece that I had written telling me that not many people are open about saying that they are mentally ill, and applauding me for doing so in my writing.

The thing is, I haven't always been open about my mental health. For years, I kept quiet about having anxiety, depression, PTSD and having attempted suicide in the past. I was alone with my pain, I hid my true face behind a mask of smiles and platitudes. When anyone asked how I was, I told them I was 'fine' no matter how I really felt.

But, eventually I cracked. I couldn't hide the pain that I was feeling anymore, and everything fell apart in my life.

When you spend a long time pretending to be fine and you aren't fine, your breakdown seems out of left field for those around you. All they see is the final straw, the final action that pushed you over the edge into the abyss of blackness. They think that the one thing that seemingly made you crack was the only thing that happened to you. And it seems like it wasn't 'enough' to merit such a reaction.

So now, I put it all out there. All the pain, all the struggles, all the fears and limiting beliefs and feelings of not being 'enough.' I show my true face, no matter how it looks at any given time. I show my sorrows as well as my joys. I'm real.

If people don't like my realness, then they have the choice to walk away at any time.

Some people say that writing about mental health can harm your chances of getting a job. It may even be true. There is plenty of workplace discrimination against people with handicaps. But still, I put on every job application that asks that I am disabled. I never used to do that.

Even with identifying as disabled (because of PTSD - it is considered a disability in the US) in my last round of job applications, I was able to find a great job in 2020. I believe this will hold true in the future as well.

I am more than just 'disabled.' I am a person with useful skills, a good heart, and a desire to help others. If people are willing to reject me because of labels like 'mentally ill' or 'disabled' I would rather they reject me up front.

I don't want to get into a job, relationship, friendship or anything else under false pretenses again. I don't want to have to hide who I am. I would rather someone reject me right off the bat before I enter into a job, relationship or friendship. Then, it is just a one-off encounter that didn't work out. I won't have invested the time, energy and effort into someone who wouldn't be able to accept the real me.

What is the point of gaining acceptance if you have to be fake all the time? What is the point of getting someone to like something that isn't even you? I am tired of the mask. I am tired of being fake. Either people like me or they don't. They want me or they don't. They hire me or they don't.

I can't force people to like me, accept me or choose me. I am tired of trying. If someone isn't going to see my value when I present my true self to them, then that isn't someone I need in my life. I would rather end up alone than stuck in fake relationships. It's just not worth the stress that it causes.

When it comes to applying for a job with a mental illness, Workability says that:

Employers surveyed in this January 2022 report revealed that employee mental health is a top priority for companies this year, which shows that many organizations no longer stigmatize the issue. There’s no shame in admitting you struggle with mental health issues. In fact, being open about these issues can be beneficial to your professional future. By talking to a potential employer about your mental health issues, you show that you are willing to be open about them and manage these issues. This can only reflect positively on your character and work ethic.

Due to the chronic stress and anxiety that was caused in the workplace by the COVID-19 pandemic, many employers have become more sensitive to mental health issues in the workplace. They talk about self care and work life balance now. It has become an important focus for many employers to see that their employees are doing well mentally.

This is an important step in the right direction for the mental health community, as it helps those with mental health issues to come out of the shadows and stop hiding out of fear. It allows us to be ourselves. Just the act of being able to be authentic at work can relieve a huge burden, and serve to reduce stress that we may otherwise experience. Being fake is hard.

Also, Workability continues:

At a workplace that knows your history and is willing to give you a chance, you can be sure that your supervisors will be supportive. If the company you are applying to has a proactive approach to mental health, it likely already has policies and programs in place to support employees with mental health conditions – which means the company culture is a good fit for you.

In my personal experience, this has proven to be true. I have had two employers now that I was open with about my mental health issues, and it has proven to be invaluable. When you are honest about your needs, it allows you to ask for support when you need it.

When I was bartending, for example, there was an irate customer who started yelling at me. It made me have a panic attack. I asked my supervisor to speak with her, and I was allowed to sit down, while another supervisor helped me to calm down and feel better. All in all, I was off the floor for only about 15 minutes. But it made all the difference in the world.

As someone who was abused in the past, I find people yelling at me to be very triggering. If I would have had to stay and cope with that woman, I am not sure what the resolution to the situation would have been. As it was, both she and I were able to be cared for. The situation didn't have to escalate.

It goes to show, when people are aware of your condition and accept you as an employee, they are willing to help you on the occasions when it is needed. This can mean the world to someone who is suffering with a mental illness. I am forever grateful to my employers in that instance for being so kind and helpful.

Sure, there is discrimination against the mentally ill, even in 2023.

But the thing is, wouldn't you rather be rejected right away, before you get into a situation where you know that people won't be supportive of your mental health? By being honest, you protect yourself from having people in your life who are unwilling to accept you as you are. And that can only help in the long run.

So, in short I would say this: If you are starting a new job, relationship or friendship as a mentally ill person, be honest! It can help you find much more supportive environments to be in.


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