Drop Kick Stigma. No Really.

Now I’ve been in remission for 24 years.

I think that if you’re a human being you’ll want to love another person and be loved back just like most people on the planet do.

I shudder to go into detail about the diagnosis. It’s because I want to focus on the positive not on illness. And the point in getting the right help right away is that an illness has the potential to become non-existent in your life. It can be gone and might not ever come back.

I’m not kidding when I say this. Tons of people are recovered and doing well–they’re just not blogging about it or telling other people. For so many of us we just want to move on in our lives and have a normal life and not focus on the hell.

That’s because for a lot of us the hell IS gone.

I make this claim–because it’s the goal to shoot for. I’ve been in remission for 24 years now–that’s 24 years. That’s how long the illness has in effect been gone from my life.

My beloved Sicilian grandfather was in a coma hooked up to a respirator in the intensive care unit when what happened to me happened. That was my breaking point.

Thus I prefer to describe this in human terms not in clinical terms.

I met a woman who told me she and her boyfriend met via Plenty of Fish. I knew they’d been dating for at least 2 years so I got right on this and joined Plenty of Fish.

Whatever happens I’ll be OK with it. I’ll be here on earth too long to waste one minute fearing stigma or fearing any garden-variety rejection.

Everyone has something. Whatever your thing is figure out how you want to talk about it and the level of detail you want to use to describe what happened.

In the years I’ve kept this blog it might appear I’ve made the case strongly for achieving remission as a noble goal. I stand by this because it’s certainly easier to live your life if the illness is gone.

Yet when a person doesn’t achieve remission there is always still hope for having a full and robust life. You’ll just possibly have to work harder at managing an illness so that it doesn’t consume your energy 24/7.

I’m the family member of a loved one with a mental illness. So I use this to introduce to other people why I label myself as a humanitarian. After I gauge the response I’ll consider whether to talk about my own life.

Most of all I’m not keen to make an issue out of having a diagnosis. I’m not going to be in-your-face about this. And let’s face it a lot of people simply don’t care. My good friend tells people–and they accept him anyway. What a brave soul who doesn’t feel the need to fear what people think.

It’s because I don’t care what people think either that I go my merry way in terms of trying to meet a guy. It’s because “love is worth the risk.” You’ve got to be in it to win it–in love as in the lottery.

How soon would I tell a guy? Right now I don’t want to tell at all. My perception is: “This  is what happened in my life. It is what it is and I don’t care about it.”

I think then having a certain nonchalance about these things will put others at ease. Focusing on the negative in our lives won’t help matters even though for a significant number of people they’re knee-deep in managing symptoms 24/7.

I’ll end here by saying that getting the right help right away does matter if you ever want the hope of being able to drop kick the illness for good.

Author: Chris Bruni

Christina Bruni is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir Left of the Dial. She contributed a chapter "Recovery is Within Reach" to Benessere Psicologico: Contemporary Thought on Italian American Mental Health. As well as an author and activist, Bruni is an artist and athlete.

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