I know for some, reading about my struggles with mental health problems may have seemed to come out of nowhere. I did a pretty decent job of hiding my conditions for many years. I wanted to seem like I had everything figured out. Only my closest friends and family knew the moments when I’ve fallen apart, searched desperately for stable ground, and at times, feared life.
I’ve done my best to obtain the help I needed to bounce back when I have bouts of depression or anxiety. Intense life changes can magnify one’s struggles, as it did for me. When my first article about my struggle with anxiety went live, I can’t accurately express how touched I was by people. Some even stepped forward, feeling comfortable enough to admit to me their own struggles, many of whom I never would have guessed fight the same battle. This made me realise how important it is to not hide your experiences and troubles. To do so, can make you feel as though you are facing them all alone.
There are others out there who feel the same and who’ve experienced the same things, yet are unable to talk about them. I must admit I was a little afraid when I wrote my first piece about anxiety, fearing people would call me “crazy,” question my stability and my ability to study and work. It’s natural to believe people will not understand, and so liberating to discover that low and behold, there are many who do. Instead of calling me sick, they called me brave and that meant the world to me.
To admit to your flaws is a scary experience and to share them with the world is no less than terrifying. You aren’t simply telling a story. You are exposing a delicate piece of yourself, lifting the curtain for all to see and inviting in both criticism as well as praise.
Even more so, we are exposing a part of our family to the world, and this is a big responsibility. I didn’t want people to look at my family and feel pity for coping with a mental illness because my illness isn’t who I am as a whole.
The support of my blog, my projects, my fundraising, my charity work and passion for mental health gave me the strength to continue writing about my longtime fight with mental health problems. They have only let me see more clearly that there is nothing to be ashamed of. It is not only liberating to finally admit to the feelings I’ve had and the painful moments I’ve faced, but it is also a relief finding no matter how much it may feel like it, I am not alone. Knowing that sharing my stories may help others find a voice as well is the most rewarding. The more we all try to share, understand and relate to one another, the more we can face our difficulties as an army. There is no need to face every battle alone.
[credit: Marisa Svalstedt.]