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Recently, I was asked about my thoughts on therapy, and mental illness in general. I’m a psychology major, I work at a group home, and I’ve personally had a few different diagnosis slapped on a file with my name.
Depending on the day or person, I might have a decent amount to say about it all.
While having a brief conversation about my own personal experiences, someone’s reaction amounted to: “That happened to you so long ago. You shouldn’t even be talking about it anymore.”
The irony is, the biggest reason I feel the need to talk about experiences years after is because of responses just like that one.
Remarks like this one reek of stigma; it’s what kept my disorder in the dark initially.
Stigma may be a sad reality for longer than I would like, but my biggest rebellion against the ridiculousness of it all is to keep my voice heard. Anyone who has stories of their own mental health issues, as well as a loved one’s mental health issues, has a voice.
Sharing each story is both for your benefit and the people around you.
Without a doubt, talking about mental illness can be terrifying at first.
There are a million ways to do it, but because it’s your experience, you get ownership of it. With ownership, you get the right to express everything that comes with that trial, along with the choice of who gets to hear it.
As I was first liberating myself from depression and disordered eating, my choice was to stand before classrooms and talk about all kinds of struggles I was working through. I remember being so nervous my hands shook the notecards I prepared. I also remember feeling extremely empowered by speaking out against things that used to be my chains.
Not everyone is going to gain freedom from speaking in front of groups of people.
However, not everyone needs to. Your version of speaking up can even be to finally talk opening with a close friend who never understood before. Who knows, your friend could be going through some of the same things, or might, years down the road.
By talking through your mental illness you have the wonderful opportunity to claim mental illness as a part of your narrative, and not your identity.
You also have the opportunity to be an example to people currently suffering. If we all talked about our struggles more, the stigma would have no option but to loosen its grip. I wish I had more people bringing awareness to everything mental illness is before I was at my rock bottom.
From what I’ve seen, though, the best way to get people to talk more openly is to open up yourself and watch for the ripple effect. I’ve had around 5 years of telling tales of my own mental illness by now. The more I keep an open dialogue, the surer I am it makes the shame shed off.
My strongest rebellion to the stigma is bringing mental illness into the light.
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Brooke struggled with disordered eating, depression, and self harm at a very young age. She went into recovery at fifteen in November of 2011, and continues to share and learn perspectives for healthy and happy living. Her faith in Christ is what motivated her recovery, and is what continues to motivate her to love herself and others more deeply every day. She deeply enjoys her work at a group home for individuals with a spectrum of disorders. Brooke plans to pursue a four year degree in Psychology at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. Brooke believes people (herself included) are messy, but well worth loving and caring for. Some of her interests include running, reading, listening to spoken word poetry, singing in the car and shower, and drinking coffee no matter the time of day. By writing for the Libero, Brooke aims to find another way to put her trials to good use.
SITE DISCLAIMER: The opinions and information shared in this article or any other Content on our site may not represent that of Libero Network Society. We hold no liability for any harm that may incur from reading content on our site. Please always consult your own medical professionals before making any changes to your medication, activities, or recovery process. Libero does not provide emergency support. If you are in crisis, please call 1-800-784-2433 or another helpline or 911.