Tips To Help You Share Your Mental Illness With Others
Welcome back to Your Anxiety Toolkit podcast!
Recently on the podcast, I shared my own personal journey of struggling (and now managing) significant anxiety, disordered eating and life stressors. It was a scary, yet brave thing for me to do and I am so glad I did. Because I am constantly telling others that “It is a beautiful day to do hard things,” I figured I have to walk the walk, not just talk the talk. It was such an amazing experience to hear many of your reflections and own personal stories on these difficult issues.
What surprised me was that one of the most common questions I heard from you guys (my lovely CBT School community and YAY Podcast listeners) was, “HOW do I share my story?” So many people reached out and shared that they wish they had the courage and “know-how” to start telling others about their journey with mental illness. Maybe you want to empower others? Maybe you want to get it off your chest? Maybe you want to reduce the stigma around your own disorder and mental health struggles?
So, you know what I did? I called the person I most respect when it comes to sharing her story, Shala Nicely. Together we recorded a podcast episode and talked about what you might want to consider when making the decision to share your story. Shala shared many beautiful personal examples of her own process of writing a memoir about her journey with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and how she handled the ups and downs of this process.
Shala and I also talked about HOW to share what you are struggling with a friend or loved one. Shala gives some wonderful tips to decide who to share with and why it might not be who you would have first considered.
What no one can prepare you for is your own mental roller coaster that occurs when you share information about yourself. We also address self-criticism and dealing with what I call “sharing remorse” or what Brene Brown calls a “vulnerability hangover” after telling someone your deep dark secrets. One of the things I love the most about Shala is that she is honest and open about the ups AND the downs of sharing. She shares what it is like for her to handle negative feedback and how she manages that through Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP). I hope this helps you come to a decision for yourself.