Outing Myself

by Bill Brenner on February 22, 2010

The author on why he chose to “out” himself despite what other people might think.

Mood music:


A couple friends have asked why I “outed myself” in this blog. Wasn’t I afraid people would blackball me at work? Don’t I worry that I’ll be defined by my struggle with OCD above all else?

It’s a fair question.

First, let’s get the notion of “courage” and “bravery” off the table. Some have used those words to describe what I’m doing, and I appreciate that. But I really don’t think it’s that. Like I’ve said before, my grandfather parachuting behind enemy lines at the start of the D-Day invasion was courage.

I’m  doing this more because the point arrived where, for the sake of my own sanity, I had to start being myself as openly and honestly as I can. Honesty can be tough for people who deal with mental illness and addiction. [More on this in “The Liar’s Disease“] But I decided I had to do better.

Admittedly, some of the motivation is selfish. We OCD types have overdeveloped egos and tend to go digging for attention. It’s hard to admit that, but it’s the truth. Being open about that forces me to keep myself in check. It’s also an invitation for those around me to call me out on acts of ego and selfishness.

The biggest reason for doing this, without question, is my Faith. I realized some time ago that when you rip the skeletons from your closet and toss them into the daylight, they turn to dust. Big sinister stigmas become very small indeed. Then you can move on.

I didn’t arrive at that viewpoint easily. It took many years of dirty work.

With my Faith comes a need to do service for others. In this case, I accumulated experiences that might be of help to other sufferers. Sharing wasn’t exactly something I wanted to do. It’s something I HAD to do.

We’re all in this together. Many good people have helped me along the way. Trying to help someone else is the very least I could do. In the final analysis, we all help each other.

Getting it all out of the head and into this blog has certainly been helpful, so thanks for indulging me.

Was it a risk to my career to do this? I don’t think so.

I don’t think I’d be doing this if I still worked for The Eagle-Tribune. The culture of that newsroom wouldn’t have allowed for it when I was there. I have no idea if the culture has changed, but I suspect not.

I’ve gotten a ton of support from those I work with now. I’m definitely lucky to work with the folks in this office.

Does that mean everyone should put their demons out in the open as I have?

Difficult to say.

It’s not going to be the right decision for everyone to make. There are a lot of honorable reasons for people to keep their demons private. In many cases, the veil is what you use to protect others as well as yourself.

But my veil blew away in the storm that was my life. Walking forward without it was all I could do.

source: dancingmood.com

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Linda May 30, 2010 at 9:34 am


First of all, great tunes, as always.

Second, a friend recently found out that a coworker killed herself. He was shocked, particularly because as he said, “She seemed to have it all.” He then went on to say, “We can never know the demons people hide. They must believe that they are utterly alone.”

I sent him a link to your blog as an example of the good that can come out of “outing” yourself. Maybe if this woman had known that she was not the only one stuggling with demons, she would have sought help.

So whether it’s ego, altruism or a mix of both, just keep doing it. Thanks.

Marisa May 30, 2010 at 9:56 am

heh, I put on “Show Me How To Live” even before I saw you had it at the bottom of your post. Great stuff.

Also, Linda, I am sorry for what your friend is going through. There is lots of truth in what you just said. It hits home big time. Thank you.

Dan O'Leary October 17, 2010 at 2:04 pm

There is nothing more powerful than your true words. Speaking from experience, when we face our biggest problems in life, we all feel alone. It is truly amazing how un-alone we are. I have struggled with anxiety/depression. To seek others who are in the same boat is the challenge. I thank God for people who make themselves available to share their struules and triumphs to give a helping hand.
PS: I love your sound tracks 🙂

Avolio February 18, 2012 at 3:14 pm

Well said. Nicely done.

Eli January 1, 2013 at 1:28 pm

I really applaud what you are doing here, Bill. I feel that in the long run it will actually help u, rather than hurt.

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