Monday, June 9, 2008

"Coming Out"

I was reading an article entitled, “Coming Out: Considering the Closet of Illness” when Rosalind sent me the link to the interview.

Ironically, I hadn’t known what she was going to title the post.

If you have access to articles databases and stuff, you should check this out! It is very insightful. I happened to stumble upon this article at work, while I was searching for articles for a project I’m working on, on chronic illness, social support, and the life course.

I’ve provided the reference below.

The article discusses something that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.


The harm of disclosing the fact that you have an invisible disease is that the person or people you are telling probably do not realize that anything is wrong with you and this can lead to them viewing you differently.Obviously, you run this risk any time, but there is more likely to be a divided reaction when this disclosure is completely unexpected.

I know the way I’ve felt over the past few weeks, having to tell near-strangers about my illnesses. It is both a blessing and a curse. It is a blessing when you disclose to someone who attempts to understand. It feels like a weight has been lifted off of your shoulders. It is also a curse because you are baring yourself so completely to people who would, under different circumstances, not necessarily deserve such outright honesty.

I am a heterosexual woman, so I have never had to deal with the experience of “coming out” as homosexual. But I think the metaphor of likening the disclosure of ones illness to others to the admittance of homosexuality is a profound one.

Both deal with a profound sense of putting oneself on the line with the possibility of outright rejection.

I know that for some, even talking about their illness in the virtual world would be unthinkable. For me, though, it seems to be the release I need, that I can’t often get “in real life.” It’s a difficult distinction for me to explain.

But if you reject me for my illness, you reject all of me. Only recently have I become brave enough to stand up and say that this is for real. And that if being true to myself means disclosing, even when I run the risk of rejection, so be it. If I can’t accept what’s happening, no one else will be able to.

It is truly sad for any group of people that goes through something like this that we live in such a world where difference is so blatantly unacceptable.
(Myers, Kimberly R. “Coming Out: Considering the Closet of Illness.” Journal of Medical Humanities 25(4): 255-270.)

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