It takes great courage to talk about an intimate experience. There’s always the risk of oversharing or making others uncomfortable. This is especially true when talking about mental health.
Transparency has evolved from taboo to infamy. Reality shows showcase the personal lives of once-admired celebrities. The effectiveness of reality TV has been shunned, however, I believe it has opened the doors for people to freely discuss their problems.
Although I don’t condone exposing drama and capitalizing off of the troubles of others, there is some validity to being an open book.
I suffer from anxiety and OCD which I previously kept a secret. It wasn’t that I was ashamed, but I had no clue about the impact of my story.
I began sharing my experiences via blog posts and gradually opening up to those around me. The process was freeing. I began to normalize my “condition” to the extent that it didn’t seem like such a foreign mentality.
Sometimes when you struggle with something, the pain can seem so insurmountable that it’s comparable to an alien sighting.
Your feelings are confined to your own mind and you start to feel alone in your mentality.
By opening up about what you’re going through with others, you slowly become desensitized in a sense. The more you talk about it, you grow accustomed to those feelings in a manner that gives you control; something that we sufferers crave but rarely master.
You control how much you feel comfortable sharing and this gives you power.
This empowerment is subtle and it will open many doors for you. It’s almost as if you’re owning yourself. Yes, your experience is painful, manic and tragic at times, but that all encompasses your being.
Out of the chaos, there’s a hidden treasure just waiting to be revealed. You gain a confidence in yourself by expressing what you’ve gone through (or going through) It’s also a great way to weed out those who support you and those who don’t. Good friends will applaud your honesty.
Writing that first blog article gave me such a release. I was able to articulate my feelings to people who had no clue as to my situation. I was able to educate them on how common mental health issues are. People watch movies and read headlines that portray people with a mental illness as particularly crazy.
They have no idea that the person sitting next to them could be dealing with depression, bipolar disorder or even anxiety. It brings a sense of reality to a mysterious array of emotions.
After I posted that article, many of those on my friends’ list sent me messages thanking me for my transparency. In fact, a few of them shared their personal struggles with anxiety and depression. As a result of my opening up, a slew of others grew courageous enough in their own experience. We created a sense of community and comradery that is irreplaceable.
Abraham Maslow stated that belongingness is one of our basic needs. We need to feel as if we have a support system and a community to belong to. The beauty of sameness is like that first sip of hot coffee in the morning.
It’s comforting, bold and energizing. It prompts those listening to act. It’s a snowball effect of honesty that’s massiveness is contagious.
Others will then feel comfortable to advocate for mental health awareness with confidence.
I work with an awesome non-profit organization; Creative Mental Health Awareness Initiative which showcases a unique approach to educating the community on mental health through the arts. They are one of the many organizations that speak openly about mental health.
Are there ways that you can personally assist someone struggling with these illnesses? Love promotes action and it is imperative that we all work together to help break that stigma surrounding mental health.
The results can be life-saving. Initiate the conversation and defend the matter of mental health.