Doing so is meant to remove stigma and shame, allowing people to receive support and aid for whatever they feel ails them. It's also meant to remedy loneliness by providing comfort and reassurance to anyone secretly suffering the same issues.
Furthermore, being so open about yourself and your struggles/illnesses/addictions theoretically encourages patience and forgiveness on the part of others.
And so people are encouraged to be open about dealing with their own ADHD, depression, bipolar disorder, addictions, eating disorders, abuse, their failings, and much more.
Discretion & Caring CAN Go Together
Endearingly, she apologized both at the beginning and the end of the email for "getting so personal" and sincerely hoped she hadn't "offended anyone" by going into so many "personal details."
After a lifetime of confessional bombardment, I found her delicacy downright charming.
I remember the big push in the Eighties for alcoholics to come out of the closet and get treatment.
But years later, a couple of articles came out questioning the no-holds-barred approach. Former alcoholics discovered it was difficult for others to put the alcoholic's past behind them as readily as the alcoholic had.
After years of sobriety and stability, the self-proclaimed alcoholic no longer centered his life or identity around his former addiction...but others still did.
Furthermore, people sometimes encounter rejection and discouragement when they reveal feelings or experiences that the listener simply cannot handle, which makes the speaker feel even worse.
Needless to say, I don't think we should go back to the times when disabled children were kept out of sight or shipped off to institutions and kept hush-hush.
But I think there's a balance between extremes.
Being a True Friend
As far as he's concerned, one should only reveal the minimum necessary for a friend to understand where you need chizuk. In return, that friend should provide the following:
- soul-restoring words
- happy talk (cheer you up, maybe?)
- encouraging words
- words of Torah
- doing good (maybe doing practical favors, like loans or babysitting)
- seek your good points and allow you to seek his or her good points
The Real Reason for Pain
But I'm trying. Like with all spiritual efforts, it's been a bit of seesaw, but I've made some progress, so baruch Hashem for any forward-motion.
In addition, you also develop an unhealthy dependency on others because you get so used to getting things off your chest to another person, rather than God or your diary. You feel like everything that bothers you is a reason for lashon hara l'toelet, despite how the actual halacha defines lashon hara l'toelet.
But keeping things between you and God isn't repression, it's the healthiest form of self-expression and self-expungement.
Watching your mouth also brings more blessing and relief.
Yes, pouring out your heart to a friend can bring temporary relief (IF the friend responds in the way you need), but it tends to be short-term and shallow. It feels good, which keeps you coming back for more. The relief, though momentary, is very real. But then the problems continue.
Judaism says, "Bracha ba'a b'seter" -- "Blessing comes in secret" or in a hidden manner or undercover.
When someone is really bothering you, and instead of talking about their horribleness to your spouse, your mother, and your 3 best friends, you instead turn to Hashem and thank Him for the atonement, explore the message in their bad behavior, and you daven that the horrible person does teshuvah from love while also noting a good point in their favor...THEN you're most likely to see blessing and achieve relief (albeit not always immediately).
Of course you still need friends, but friends are best kept within a certain framework as described in the bulleted list above.
Hashem sends us pain as a wake-up call to come closer to Him and develop a dependency on Him, and not to come closer and develop a dependency on other people who ultimately can't love you or help you in the way you need most (even if they still love and help you to the best of their abilities -- which is still limited compared to Hashem's Ability to love and help you).