What happened when I started talking about my mental health

Quote by Seneca for talking about mental health blog post - "As long as you live, keep learning how to live."

The world changed for the better when I started talking about my mental health.

For one, it became easier to navigate.

Once I started talking about my mental health, I noticed an inner softening. It started inside of me, but soon what I felt inside matched what I presented to the world almost all of the time.

I didn't have to worry about who knew what about me because I was consistent.  Because I was authentic. I was becoming more and more free to just be myself.

This connected me with others in a new way, crafting a new identity in the process.

Being this honest, this vulnerable, it's contagious.

Seeing the world for what it is

When you share who you are, people see that. They respect that. It makes them want to share something personal about themselves.

But don't think that's the point.

To think of it that way makes it almost like a game, that to share something about yourself is only done so that another person will reciprocate.

It's beyond that. It's actually much more like watching from the bleachers, the nosebleed seats.

You see lots of people down there, scurrying around like ants, performing and pretending that it's all OK.

Tiring themselves out from putting on a show where the rules are all socially constructed. 

When I started to talk about how anxiety affects my life, ears perked up. Eyes darted in their sockets.

Then, I talked about the intrusive thoughts that sometimes make it hard for me to concentrate. The response I got was often one of genuine curiosity. The key word here is "genuine."

We are so accustomed to writing with the lines and playing the roles in our self-created drama.  So when someone shares something unusual, it snaps us out of our routines. That's a good thing.

A recent example

I'll tell you a story.

I'm in graduate school finishing up a Master of Social Work degree, and I shared about my experience with depression in class a week ago. Something strange happened when I did. The world didn't end. Instead, my professor shared about her experience with mental health. Another classmate talked about living with bipolar II disorder.

What started with a risk--although, in hindsight, it's never really a risk at all--ended with link after link connecting in a chain of humanity.

If you go first, if you share something that's eating away at you, the thing that is making you nervous but is an important part of who you are, you set the stage for others.

You create a space for others to be known for who they really are.

Clear expectations for a new way forward

Talking about mental health leads to a new way forward
Talking about mental health leads to a new way forward

Bit by bit, I share my story.

I am talking about my mental health because it shapes us as much as our physical health, our childhoods, our family dynamics, our education.

I share so others can know what they're dealing with and decide for themselves if they want to share, too. 

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