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Ask The Question: How to talk about your own mental illness in the presence of fear, shame or embarrassment
Talking about mental illness is hard. Stigma is prevalent among us and can be scary to face. I believe in order to get ahead of stigma we must talk about mental illness and our feelings openly. I know this may feel challenging, especially if feelings such as shame or embarrassment arise, so I've come up with some ideas that may help. I hope my tips will empower you to have a conversation about your struggles.
- START SMALL. That may mean starting out by talking with close friends and family members about your mental illness. Just actively talking about your struggles with people who can be non-judgmental will help you to get used to just talking, which can be half the battle.
- DON'T FEEL LIKE YOU HAVE TO LABEL YOURSELF. You are not your mental illness. However, you are human and can talk about your feelings just like someone can talk about his or her medical condition. If you are struggling, it's okay to say "I am struggling, I am feeling anxious right now, I am afraid". Most people are receptive to honesty so don't be afraid to share your true feelings. Through talking about your own problems, you can inspire others to become more comfortable talking about theirs. That's so powerful!
- LISTEN TO OTHERS. If you listen carefully, you may find most people are struggling with something. Showing up with a listening ear helps others be heard and can help facilitate a conversation about uncomfortable topics, including mental illness.
Let's start talking about the things that are uncomfortable and real.
Written by: Christina Lapi