Although I am open about my diagnosis and experiences to friends and family, and well just about everyone, I am still selective with who I disclose my illness to. I believe sharing such information should be dealt with delicately whenever someone decides to disclose because stigma is still rampant and at work. By no means am I condoning deception, or for someone to lie about their mental health status, I am simply suggesting that people should be cautious.
Due to my experiences, these are some situations where I feel someone should be hesitant about disclosure: 1) housing, 2) employment and or school, and 3) personal relationships. While seeking a home it is your right to not disclose your illness even if you do have disability benefits. When a landlord asks, 'why do have disability benefits?' you can reply by asking their relevance or simply say 'I prefer not to discuss this.'
I would not tell my employer that I have a disability unless I needed accommodations. Someone could say that their disability requires them to have A, B, and C assistance. Even then, they do not have to specify their mental health status. In school, I have accommodations, however, I do not share my diagnosis with professors. I have them sign my assistance form from the disability office at the beginning of the semester by simply saying I have a disability and need accommodations, 'will you sign here.'
Relationships are special. I usually ask trick questions to get a better understanding of my partner's perspective on mental health. For example,I may ask what do you think about depression and if they reply that depression does not exist, that is my cue to not disclose. Other times I ask them if they ever heard of schizophrenia, most of the time they haven't and I may tell them that I work with people with the disorder and begin to educate them about the illness. Then I decipher their interest in the illness. Eventually, if I feel they can handle it I share with them that I have schizophrenia. I do not put a time limit on when I decide to disclose to my partner. Some people I tell, others I never tell and that is my right.
Just because I decide not to disclose my diagnosis does not mean I am ashamed of having the illness. I accept that I have schizophrenia and will have to work hard to manage it. Sometimes I do not find it appropriate to share like the situations I listed. However, I hope I encouraged you to take precaution in a healthy way.
To learn more about schizophrenia visit Embracing My Mind, Inc., the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia (Canada).