It happened like this: I had one mentor figure pull me aside and tell me it was time to "stop being so hard on myself". Then I had a family member share with me that a few of them were worried I was suicidal. Not that there is anything wrong with being suicidal, just the fact that I wasn't -- that I felt I was the most confident, free and optimistic I had been in a long time. I found such freedom in sharing my story and I felt like I was spreading hope and all the sudden I was faced with it being perceived as only negative -- as a desperate cry for help even. And it deflated me. Somehow I got the belief stuck in my head for a few months that I was doing it "all wrong". Having confidence in myself and my desire to share was something that had been so hard for me to build and this crumbled it for a while.
But not forever. Because now I'm back and ready to try again. I believe in sharing my story. I believe this is something we need to be more open about. And I don't believe in sugar-coating the hard parts -- the panic attacks and self doubt and all those sticky moments. One of the most dangerous thoughts mental illness feeds us is that we are alone -- that our struggle is abnormal and no one will ever understand. So I believe I need to be honest about the hard parts and how those moments really feel so others can relate, can know they are not alone. But at the same time I try so hard to also include hope -- to share my firm belief that all this can be part of a wonderful, meaningful, beautiful life.
And so this is my new hope and my new belief: That a person doesn't have to be perfect or perfectly healthy to possibly be helping. And that a person doesn't have to be perfect at sharing for their story to make a difference.