"It takes strength and courage to tell the truth." Rick Riordan, The Red PyramidYesterday's prompt asked me what do I do to help ease my stress and there are many things, like drinking hot tea, journaling and playing music. One of my top ones is speaking my truth. I have a wonderful therapist and sharing with her what I am stressed about helps me gain clarity about what is important and what can be discarded. I did that with her just a few hours ago and we decided that one event I was stressing about I should forego and the other I should pursue. Talking with her helped me focus on my goals and what would actually make me happy. I also have several close friends that I know I can call if I need to talk about something and my therapy appointment is far away. Talking to them strengthens our bond and helps me not feel overly burdened by troubles.
I was recently at a wonderful workshop called The Respect Institute. It was a transformative experience where people living with mental illness, including me, learned how to tell our stories in about ten minutes. One of the themes of the workshop was how important it is to get one's story out because if we don't, then it will fester and become a boil in our mind leaking toxic juices to our soul. We will begin to think that no one should hear our story and we will feel invalidated and stigmatized. The good news is that people DO want to hear our stories - people are hungry for messages of hope and even if one does not have a lot of hope, then one can at least find solidarity in sharing their experiences. In each one of our stories, there was the same fact that we each tried to hide our painful experiences out of fear only to find out that the more we tried to hide and smile, the sicker we became.
Our secrets made us all deathly ill.
I have found that each time I share my story, I gain acceptance, solidarity and hope. I receive validation that I am not alone and this strengthens everybody in the room. Sharing my secrets with others is a healing like no other.
One thing that I really liked about The Respect Institute's way of telling was that we ended each speech with three things that we wanted our audience to know. I think we all found that incredibly empowering. Here are my three things:
If I could leave you with three things, it would be: validate, validate, validate. It is amazing how treating people with empathy and validation can help heal mental health issues. Secondly, in our society a lot of emphasis is placed on what job a person has and how much money they make, but those things really do not matter. The truth is that we all have inherent worth and value as a human being, regardless of whether we have a job or not. Being a disabled person has forced me to make peace with that truth. And lastly, everyone can have a life worth living-I truly believe that hope is real for everybody, no matter how dire the circumstances seem in the moment.
Practice sharing your truth, whether it be with a therapist, a close friend or even just a journal, I think you will find it incredibly healing.