Written by Mental Health and Lifestyle blogger Cara Lisette. Cara shares her experience of opening up about her mental illness and how writing and sharing her story has helped on her self-love journey.
If you’d have asked me five years ago what my biggest fear was, it would have been anybody finding out about my mental illness. I had experienced years of stigma from being a young teenager struggling with my mental health all the way into early adulthood, so gradually over time I had learnt to shut down. Even if talking was helpful for me, it just felt safer not to.
However, I noticed that eventually my feelings of shame started to shift, and I was starting to feel very angry. Why should I feel like this? It wasn’t my fault I was mentally ill. It wasn’t fair that on top of having to deal with all of the difficulties that come hand in hand with that, I also had to feel embarrassed. And if I was feeling embarrassed and keeping it a secret, that meant other people were too.
It dawned on me that I wanted to be part of the change. I hated the idea that so many of us were being shamed into silence.
Cara’s no.1 fan is her furry friend Panda (yes the cutest name ever)
I first started sharing my story in person. I travelled the country talking about it to groups of strangers unbeknownst to almost everyone in my actual life – talking to people I would never see again was one thing but becoming vulnerable to my family, friends and colleagues was another. Eventually though, through telling my story out loud, I began to accept it more. I acknowledged that it is part of who I am and felt less and less ashamed.
It felt like the time had come to start sharing with people around me. I shared an anonymous blog post I had written for Time To Change on my Facebook and it all escalated from there. I had such nice feedback from people and it gave me that final permission to not feel shame and embarrassment anymore. People weren’t going to abandon me or make fun of me. They were still there.
Now, a few years on, I have my own blog up and running in which I speak candidly about the ups and downs of my mental health. I find it at incredibly cathartic process, writing my thoughts and feelings down, and the responses I get from other people encourage me to keep going when things feel difficult. Writing has not only helped me to be more honest overall, but has helped me to start communicating with people around me when things have been difficult. This is something I never did before and I am getting better and better at it, all thanks to me finally opening up.
It’s definitely one of the scariest things I’ve ever done but I’m so glad that I started this journey. Even if you don’t feel able to share publicly, please consider talking to people around you. People can’t help unless they know what’s going on, and from my experience people desperately wanted to help me I just wouldn’t let them.
It’s brave to talk. It’s helpful to talk. It’s okay to talk.
Do you have experience living with a mental illness? We love sharing stories, advice and events relating to Mental Health – write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org x