I wrote a whole blog post and decided it wasn't the story I wanted to tell. This is my story. This is what I will tell today. And it will leave me no choice but to keep telling it.
Today is #BellLetsTalk day. And this subject just keeps coming up and coming up and I keep going 'ya ya me too'... but is it worth sharing? A few things answered my question for me...
First, I felt the Spirit of God ask me to and He's the only one I like to listen to.
Secondly, I heard someone say to me after I shared briefly 'you suffer, I never would have known?' How many times do I need to hear that in order to share?
I am Tammy, and I have mental illness. In particular anxiety, most always, and panic attacks on a regular basis.
I want to normalize this. But I don't want to accept it. I deeply believe that our culture plays a huge role. A culture of people pleasing and perfection. I recently went to a meeting of entrepreneurs and asked for a show of hands who is a people pleaser. Almost everyone raised their hands.
What we need for mental illness is more boundaries and less perfection.
We need tools and conversation and love. We do not need sideways glances or whispers or suicide. I lost my aunt to mental illness, did you know that death is a common result of this disease? You die from isolation and unacceptance and often pride.
We are not meant to hide these illnesses, we are meant to share our needs with others and ask for help. We need each other. I would not be here today if I didn't have my husband. God placed him in my life early on, I was 14. Little did I know how he would save me.
There was a time in my life that I could not leave my house alone. Nope I'm not crazy or pathetic or unworthy, just sick. Not 'sick in the head', that hurts too. Just sick, I have a disease of mental illness. It's ok.
I started talking about having anxiety many years ago, as it's been 30 years since my first panic attach. But in recent years I've often told others that I have mental illness. Because it's true, but also because I am a successful + outgoing business owner in the community. I am worthy of love and I am good at what I do. I have the happiest life I can imagine and I want others suffering to have hope.
Because there are a lot of hopeless moments in mental illness
I clearly remember falling to my knees on Scott's (my hubby) lap, crumbling into him for help. Tears falling down my face, knowing I couldn't carry on, not one more minute.
In that moment I made a choice. Death or God. I chose God. I know there are other choices for other people and that's great. I just want you to be happy. Those who suffer and those who don't. I don't even need people to understand. I just think people with mental illness need respect. And I do think we need to change the stigma. And maybe that comes with being brave...
So here goes.
Today, and every day, I am brave. In fact, suffering has made me braver than I ever could have been. I am uncomfortable every single day. I've never needed to push past my comfort zones, I don't have any. I am grateful today for my mental illness. I am grateful for the path it's created for me, for vulnerability, openness, and beautiful people in my path.
There is no easy solution, and remember this is my MY story.
Each sufferer has their own very unique story worthy of being heard. Be brave with me today my loves.