"Don't be ashamed of your story. It will inspire others" -Unknown
Today, (as I’m writing this) is World Mental Health Day, but tomorrow (when I post it) it will be just another day. Another day of not talking about mental health and another day of pretending like problems don’t exist.
I feel a personal connection with World Mental Health Day because of my own experience and the experiences of close friends. Best friends, who struggle so deeply with their inner demons that it pains me to even think about the kind of mental animosity they endure every day.
Instead of divulging in the dark depressing stories about fucked up childhoods and painful experiences. I want to talk about something different.
I want to talk about talking.
Do you know how good it feels to let other people in and have other people understand you? How good it feels to be yourself and find your place in the world?
The power of your voice
You won’t know the power of your voice until you hear it. Until you say it out loud. Your story and your experiences mean something. They don’t have to be boxed away and shoved into the back of the closet. Your voice is a tool to help others. To encourage, motivate and inspire other people.
Have you ever traded a secret with someone and instantly felt connected to them? I’m sure on the flip side, you’ve told someone a secret was used to hurt you later on. The thing about secrets is that they can only hurt us if we want them to stay hidden. Own your truth. Don’t let anyone else have the privilege of owning it.
Use your voice to move mountains, to stand up for yourself, to speak the truth.
The power of your story
Everyone has a story. When I think about my life I think about it in 2 separate parts. Part 1: I commonly refer to as my past life. A person I don’t recognize, someone I moved on from. A person I forgave but also tried to forget. My past life.
Part 2: The life I live now. One that is full of gratitude, love, and happiness. A life of healing and personal growth. I see myself as a person who has a future and can do the impossible. A strong person who doesn’t let fear of failure hold her back from anything.
Your story means something. Telling it has the power to help others and help you. We learn through the stories we hear. They make us feel connected, they help us understand ourselves and the people around us. The only way we will ever normalize the conversation around mental health is by talking about it.
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So here it goes, in part 1 I battled and struggled with anxiety and depression. It was something only two close friends knew. It went on for years, as far back as I can remember when I was in fourth grade and exclaimed to my mom that I wanted to die. At 8 years old I wanted to die. For years after that, there was depression, anxiety, panic attacks. Which led to drinking, smokey, promiscuity and rebellion. For years no one knew. I put on a happy face and kept my secret until I was at my boiling point. At 15 I was almost committed to a hospital but I talked my way out of it. Insisting that I was fine, putting on my usual happy face. It always worked.
It took over 6 years to finally come to terms with my past and be able to say the words out loud.
I'm reminded by my own story that life is complicated. You can have everything in the world and still be depressed. You can seem like the happiest person on the planet and be dying inside.
There is no conclusion this is your journey. Understand, that mental health problems can be an uphill battle. I get how impossibly hard it is to feel happy when you feel defeated all the time. I'm not trying to tell you to try and be happy or use positive affirmations to get better. It isn't going to be all rainbows and butterflies just because someone says "be happy" or "believe in yourself". Not everyone is going to understand what you're going through. I know the fear of being judged or belittled by others.
All I'm asking is that you don't feel ashamed about your illness, you talk about it to someone that understands and you remain strong and willing to keep going no matter how tough some days get. Don't hide your feelings own them.