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I shared part of my mental health story recently. I was guest on The Depression Files Podcast.
It was one of the most vulnerable interviews I've done. I talked about my battle with depression and insomnia, something I don't talk about that often because it was such a scary time.
But it's part of my story. And I felt the need to share it.
Which brings me to to the topic of this issue: When should you share your mental health story?
Sharing Your Mental Health / Illness Experience
You should share your story when you're ready.
How do you know when you're ready? How do you know if it's safe to talk about your experience living with mental illness? Or your response to a traumatic situation? Or anything that destabilized your mental health?
It always comes back to you. No one gets to decide for you. No one gets to determine that your story is ready for the world. If that's the case, then it's another person's story that is including your story for the benefit of the other person. That's manipulation.
You are the arbiter of your truth. You are the ultimate decider.
It Comes Down to Mental Health Safety
What do I mean by that? I mean that you must feel secure in who you are. And there are many factors that go into that. The environment in which you're sharing matters. Whether or not you've received help to process your experience matters. How much time has passed matters.
But there is no set formula. That's the tricky part. What matters to me may not matter to you. Something that I deem important to check off before I share my experience with mental illness may not even make your list.
Make Your List - When to Share
If you had to sit down right now and write about what would make you feel safe enough to share your mental health story, what would you write? What would make that list? Social support? Attaching the name "anonymous" to a letter you post online? A certain time a year during which you feel happy?
It could go on and on. The key is that is should be personalized. You're an individual with an individual beating heart.
Share Your Mental Health Story- What Happens
What ultimately happens when you share your mental health story?
In my experience, the world opens up. It becomes something better and more resilient. Your story gets room to breathe and starts to mix with other stories. You'll get a mixture of validation, questions, and hope. You'll feel heard.
Of course, results are mixed, and you can't guarantee any of them.
But what you can guarantee is when and how you share your story, and there is great power in that. Taking ownership of your mental health story is one of the most powerful actions you can take.
Share it when you're ready.
You might be ready earlier than you thought possible.
And when you do share your story, feel proud knowing that it's one that only you could share.