Recently my partner and I were randomly talking about how I choose to primarily focus on writing about overcoming trauma and abusive relationships.
He mentioned that he wouldn’t know how to explain to just anyone what I write about because some of them are unaware of my past experiences and are quite ignorant when it comes to emotional abuse/trauma.
For a moment I was stunned and asked if he was ashamed of my writing.
“Of course I’m not ashamed,” he answered. “I just don’t think that everyone has the willingness to educate themselves about mental health/abuse or lack the emotional maturity to understand and empathize with something they haven’t experienced.”
“Or they have experienced it and refuse to acknowledge it.”
I leaned back and reflected on how mental health was viewed when I was growing up.
My family never discussed mental health even though several of them struggle with bipolar disorder and narcissistic personality disorder.
The closest thing that we ever got to it was when I mentioned my anxiety and depression several years ago and my Dad told me he had always known I struggled with both of those things.
For years I had thought that everyone just didn’t know and that was why they never acknowledged my constant exhaustion and sadness.
When I asked him why he didn’t do anything, he just shrugged and answered, “What was I supposed to do?”
“Put me in therapy? Acknowledge that I was struggling?”
My dad looked shocked that I was upset. “I figured it was just teenage angst and I knew you would grow out of it.”
Newsflash… I didn’t grow out of it.
Recently I was talking to a friend about all of the educators on social media platforms such as TikTok that are trying to raise awareness and educate to help combat the mental health stigma.
I brought it up to her because I know that she has ADHD and I keep seeing content that was educating people on it.
She told me that she would love to educate people about her daily struggles and what she goes through mentally every single day but that she doesn’t feel like she can for several reasons.
One reason is that most people she has told either doesn’t believe that she has it because she must be “faking it” to get medication, including a doctor that had her full medical history showing that she had struggled with it for over fifteen years.
The other reason is that she believes that if someone knows she has it she will be less desirable as an employee and even as a person.
It broke my heart to hear her because… that’s what I used to believe about myself and I understood why she felt that way.
A few years ago I was exactly in the same boat as my friend who would educate and speak out if there wasn’t such a stigma. I was terrified of telling people that I struggled with depression. I didn’t want to talk about my abusive relationships and I was ashamed of my past trauma.
Instead of advocating for victims, I was scared and ashamed of what happened to me.
I blamed myself for falling into abuse and I blamed myself for the childhood trauma I had endured.
I blamed myself for experiencing PTSD after an extremely toxic and abusive relationship because I thought I should be “fine.”
This fear didn’t go away instantly. It didn’t begin to go away at all until a day over a year ago when I couldn’t hold everything in anymore. I sat down at a computer and the words poured out of me as if they had been waiting to be written my entire life.
Please know, that I understand why you are afraid and I fully admit that there is a stigma circling mental health.
I also completely understand the concern that someone could come across your writing/videos/social media.
However, you need to know this.
I truly believe that sharing my story was the biggest component of my healing journey.
Not only did telling it validate my experiences, but I realized that there were people who needed to hear my story in order to realize that their experiences were valid as well.
Now, I don’t care who reads what I write. I don’t care if someone judges me for it. I don’t care if someone I know is embarrassed by the fact that I speak out.
The reality is that there will always be people who don’t care and don’t want to listen.
There will also always be people who do care and need to hear your words.
Don’t let doubt and fear keep you from using your voice because it is the most powerful thing that you have.