I am reassured to read about your experience with the whale (and so glad for you that you've found some measure of healing with it!). I have been terrified of snakes for as long as I can remember, until just a few weeks ago. During a totem animal reading with a friend, the serpent came through and she traveled up my spine and now rests coiled around it, with her head essentially on my internal shoulder. It is very comforting feeling, now, instead of terrifying, and I am finding that even real-life serpents do not alarm me. I can look at a photo of a snake or serpent for the first time ever and not rush to scroll past it or otherwise disengage.
I agree, sadly, with your view that authenticity can have unexpected and devastating effects. I was hospitalized, voluntarily, for depression in 2001, and it was used against me in my ex-husband's custody case the following year. It's enraging, on some level, to have to defend one's history of coping in the only way one could conceive of at the time, as well as one's own character in light of abuse that was perpetrated ON you, not BY you! You are in a unique situation, of course, having been so beautifully public in helping others by sharing your story. I sincerely hope all is working out well in the case of your partner and the children involved.
Lastly, thank you for the new site! I am only just becoming familiar with your work in more than a general sense, and I love being able to interact and comment in this way.