Our Mental Story - a collection of experiences April 03 2018, 0 Comments
A friend of the usual 2-degrees of separation here in good old NZ posted that they were looking for submissions for a book they were putting together on mental health journeys. I enjoy writing, and find it a useful tool in my self-care tool box. At the time I was also really beginning to harness the true power of sharing my story, and wanted to find more opportunities to share in the hope of creating more dialogue and conversation around a topic that was so close to me. It was becoming clearer that the more I shared my journey, the more I healed, and the more I allowed others to heal too. How beautiful is that?
You can find my piece of writing at the link below. I'm really proud of it. Thank you to Liv Young and the team who have put more hours of work in to Our Mental Story than I can count.
You will also find a huge range of other beautiful stories on the Our Mental Story website, from everyday people from all different walks of life. Reading other peoples stories is so important. One of the worst parts of depression and other mental health issues is the huge, overwhelming feelings of isolation and loneliness. If we can combat that by simply sharing stories, then we have created something truly worth celebrating.
An edited version of my story was also published online on Stuff and in paper form in The Dominion Post. This was so nerve-wracking and I felt anxious for days. The above quote from Jimi Hunt is something I had saved in my phone from a while ago. I stumble across it from time to time, and came across it again while waiting for the story to be published in the public eye. The above quote is so important, and is a big reason why I didn't one day message the organiser to say 'no thanks'. After letting some close friends know how anxious I felt about the whole thing one of them described it as a 'vulnerability hangover' and I love that idea. Being vulnerable is hard, it opens up the most raw parts of your being and allows it to be examined by others who have no idea who you are. You have no control over how any one is going to react to that, and so the anxiety sits at your core as your overactive imagination comes up with the worst possible reactions and responses.
Instead of what my anxiety was telling me would happen, I have had complete strangers reach out to me. I well up with tears when I read these. I know how alone these people are feeling right now. I know how empty life can appear. I didn't have stories like this at the beginning, and I am so so humbled to be given the opportunity to be a voice that others can relate to and connect with in their times of need.
"I just wanted to say I read your article in the paper and was overwhelmed with how familiar your story sounded. Thank you so much for sharing, it makes me feel a little bit less alone with what I'm going through. I have never related to anything more."
"I just read your story on Mental. Right now at this point I feel as though I have hit rock bottom and I couldn't see any hope of life going uphill again but I just stumbled upon your story, and everything you wrote is exactly how I feel and I am so comforted knowing someone out there feels the same way I do."
So reach out and start that conversation; listen to the conversations that others are starting. Be brave, and sit through the hard parts. It will feel like shit, and at times there may not even be words to be said, but just be there, be open, and be ready.