I’ve said this before and I will probably do it again, but if I’m going to write a series of my thoughts on mental health, it would be weird not to include this: the best way to fight mental illness, and particularly the stigma surrounding it, in my experience is to share.
You can take a look at my Let’s Talk piece from 2016 to read more about my first few experiences opening up about my own struggles with depression and anxiety – going from a simple facebook post to an intense one-on-one with a friend to regularly publishing my thoughts on a nationally-known website.
It has been the single most helpful thing that I have ever done for myself.
Through sharing the dark thoughts and experiences that have held me down throughout the bulk of my journey, I’ve felt strong and courageous, helpful and with purpose, and – most of all – not alone.
The first time I found myself describing my own dark thoughts and insecurities only to have someone tell me they go through the same thing was life changing. Since then, I’ve had dozens of friends, family member, coworkers, and strangers share similar experiences, each one not only receiving personal benefits from opening up, but also making me feel a little less alone.
It is perfectly reasonable to be scared of sharing, but please know it gets better once you do it. When you acknowledge you have a mental health problem, you are not admitting defeat – you are joining the fight. Welcome.