Having a difficult time getting started since I really can’t find a suitable starting place. I have so much to tell and so much to share. Maybe the right place to start is to tell you why I even have stories to tell. Why I think these stories are worth telling. Why others might want to read these stories. Why those stories might help others. Yes, let’s start there.
For a little more than 18 months, I have been searching for information. Searching for people who have gone through what I’m going through. Searching for support. Searching for solidarity. Searching for answers. Searching for shoulders to cry on. Searching for help. And what I am slowly and reluctantly coming to realize is that I’m not going to find any of that outside of myself. I wish more than anything in this world that there were books that could help me. Friends and family who could provide the answers I want. Therapists who could fix me. Classes that could teach me how to keep moving forward through the pain. But maybe, just maybe, I can find some of that through the telling of my stories. I sincerely hope so.
Back to the why: why are my stories worth telling? Maybe it’s because I might be able help someone find what they’ve been searching for. Perhaps my experiences will resonate with someone out there. Possibly I can be of some assistance. Because I really do want to help.
I think I’ll start at the end. No, scratch that. That isn’t right. My story hasn’t ended yet. As much as I may have wanted it to end, it hasn’t. It will hopefully keep going. I don’t always feel it or believe it, but I need to stick around for a while. I need my story to continue.
Enough stalling, it’s time to jump off the cliff. I’m scared, but it’s time….
Deep breath….I spent ten days this summer committed involuntarily to a psychiatric hospital. I’ll say that again, because I need begin the process of distancing myself from the shame I’ve attached to that sentence. I was declared — on two occasions this summer — a danger to myself. Until this summer 5150 was simply the name of a Van Halen album that was popular when I was in middle school. It has a new and very personal meaning to me after the past few months.
Here’s another deathly terrifying sentence: I suffer from mental illness. Why is that so scary to put out there? Why can’t I declare that in the same way that I tell someone that I suffer from asthma? Well, it’s because nobody’s afraid of someone with asthma. Nobody fears that my asthma might hurt them. Nobody considers that my asthma makes me unfit to raise children or hold a job. Nobody will claim that my asthma caused the end of my 22 year marriage. But to yell from the rooftops that I am mentally ill is, to many, admitting that all of that is true.
Can we get to a place where I can tell a stranger that I suffer from severe clinical depression and crippling anxiety and not have them want to get away from me as quickly as possible? Can I ever say that to another person and not have them fear me, judge me, discredit me? I certainly hope so. It’s going to take a lot of work. It’s going to take a lot of stories. And, it’s going to take a lot of us coming out of the shadows to tell these stories. The stories are worth telling and they are worth hearing. I’m starting mine today.