Why I spoke about my mental illness

Cameron Elliott
Mar 15, 2017 · 2 min read

Two weeks ago I shared my story of living with mental illness in a public forum called The Weekly Service (you can listen to the full story here).

I did this not because my story is unique, but because my story is so common.

We are all touched by mental illness. One in four young Australians live with a mental illness. And there is evidence the numbers are actually much higher than this.

Looking across a lifespan there are very few people who make it through a long life without personally experiencing some form of mental illness such as anxiety or depression.

As long as mental illness is viewed as something weird or unusual to be ashamed of we will resist being open about it with others. There is a saying ‘what we resist persists’. We will continue to suffer in silence and refuse to seek the help we need to recover. At its worst this can result in suicide, at best it can result in a lifetime of unnecessary suffering.

In the days since sharing my experience of mental illness I have received several emails, phone calls and text messages from people, most of which can be summarised as:

“Thank you for having the courage to share your story. I thought I was the only one. I feel less alone/weird/strange/scared/hopeless now. Hearing that you live a full and healthy life gives me hope.”

That is why I told my story. Because I want everyone to know how normal their mental illness really is. I want everyone to know that they aren’t weird and that they have nothing to be ashamed of.

I want people to know that mental illness and mental health exist on a spectrum and we are all on it somewhere. There is no such thing as ‘normal’. There is just human. Beautiful, broken and whole humans.

Mental illness feeds on our secrecy, shame and stigma. We need to starve it by sharing our stories publicly with pride so the shadows are flooded with light.

We have survived and we owe it to those currently suffering and yet to suffer to tell our story so that it does not become their story.

You can listen to my full story here and please share it if you feel it might help others.

Cameron Elliott

Written by

Facilitator, coach, social entrepreneur & songsmith passionate about living the questions, feeling deeply and supporting others to do the same.