I believe an important part of healing and acceptance when living with a mental illness is the telling of your story. Now, before you start telling everything to your new hairdresser, your story might not be for everyone. I’m telling you to hide anything, I’m merely asking you to consider your relationship with your audience and your comfort level. Only you know who to share with and when.
I share through blogging. It’s not always comfortable, but for the most part I feel in control of my story as I sit here at this laptop at my desk and type away with one of my dogs softly snoring behind me. It feels safe to open up about aspects of my illness in hopes that someone out there won’t feel so isolated in their own struggle.
I also share much of my illnesses in my memoir that I recently finished. In 71,000 words I tell my story. So far, only a handful of people have read it – my beta testers, but hopefully one day it will be published and available to many more. It wasn’t always an easy thing to write, sometimes there were tears, sometimes there was laughter. It was good for me to get it out, to put it on paper.
I’ve given several reading on separate occasions of bits of chapters of my memoirs in front of a restaurant full of people which took me completely out of my comfort zone. Recently I auditioned for a production called “This is My Brave” during which I will stand up on a stage in front of a theater full of strangers and read an essay from the final chapter of my memoir.
So you see, it’s not always easy, but it is worth it to me because 1 in 4 people live with a mental illness. I am not alone. Sometimes when you live silently with your illness you feel like you are the only one who is suffering.
There are many ways to share your story – in safe places like therapy and support groups, with loved ones, with close friends, by blogging, by public speaking, by writing. In the beginning it may be hard, but every time you share some part of your illness that you are sure will send people running for the hills and then watch as they stick around, you grow a little stronger, a little braver. It is this strength and bravery which will lead you to acceptance and eventually to thriving instead of suffering.
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