Today is Bell “Let’s Talk” Day. So, let’s talk.
I am privileged enough to have never had to deal with any serious mental illness in my own life thus far. I have, though, had to deal with having things in my life feel very much out of my control. I have dealt with this in so many different ways but none have been more helpful than talking about it.
I have always had people around me to talk to, my friends and my family mostly. Only recently did I venture out into the world of “making-my-issues-and-difficulties-public-knowledge“. It has been an absolutely amazing experience for me up until now. I think back to my first blog that I posted about me having a stutter. At that point in time I had roughly 5 blogs written, they were locked and loaded in the chamber, but I just couldn’t convince myself to pull the trigger and put it all out there. I battled with this notion for about a month. I feared that nobody would care or that I would put it out there and people would get the wrong idea about it, like I was reaching for attention.
It was a nerve wracking click of the mouse when I finally hit the “Publish” button on my nearly month and a half old “Draft”. I could feel my heart racing, I was nervous, anxious, and a little excited to see what would happen. The outcome was amazing. It was what I had hoped for, and more. People were reading what I had to say, they were diving into my life story, my issues, and my challenges. More importantly, they were reaching out to me. Some reached out to congratulate me on being so willing to share, others to compliment me on my writing, but most importantly, there were those who appreciated what I wrote because they could relate to it.
One conversation really comes to mind here.
After one of my earlier posts about struggling in social situations, I had an old friend of mine reach out to me. I wouldn’t call this friend a really close friend but we have known each other for years and definitely are close. This friend reached out to me let me know how proud they were of me for putting myself out there. They told me that they suffer from anxiety and that they were able to relate to my experience and understood some of the difficulties I go through. They wished me the best, I thanked them for their kind words, and that was the end of the conversation. Although short in nature, this conversation not only let me know that I reached someone on a personal level but also started a conversation between the two of us that led to me learning that they suffer from their own mental illness. The sharing of my own experiences resulted in both of us having a better understanding of the difficulties we each face. I am grateful that I was able to reach this person. The power of sharing is amazing.
When I talk about there always being an audience, I don’t mean an auditorium or stadium full of people. I mean that there is always someone or someones out there willing to listen, but more importantly, wanting to listen. It doesn’t need to be a room full of people, it doesn’t even need to be 5 or 10 people. It just needs to be one, one single person. That was my goal of writing my blog. I wanted to tell my story and have just one single person reach out to me, to tell me that they understand, or even just that they read what I wrote with the intention of trying to understand. I wanted one person to hear what I had to say and just tell me “we hear you” and hopefully I would get a chance to say “I hear you right back”. I got that chance. I got that chance on multiple occasions and it was astounding.
Writing about my stutter didn’t fix my stutter, nor is it going to, but now more people know about it. More people understand what I go through. People have a chance to relate to me. And now I feel, very strongly, that if I ever do need to reach out for help, there is at least one person sitting in the audience willing to do so.