#IamNotJust comfortable sharing my story!
Over the past few days, two of my heroes have inspired me to go one step further in sharing my history with mental illness. I wrote about Patrick Kennedy's raw courage in his new book a few weeks ago, but his recent interview in this article was riveting and left me with an even deeper respect and reverence for the leader of our mental health advocacy community.
Last week, Lady Gaga launched the Emotion Revolution Summit at Yale with Dr. Marc Brackett and his team at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. She moved us to the core, as she revealed the details of her mental health challenges. She said that she created Lady Gaga to help deal with her pain, and that she experiences symptoms of depression and anxiety quite frequently.
I am in awe, both of Patrick Kennedy and of Lady Gaga, because, as much as I feel that it is my responsibility to be authentic and honest about my history, it is never easy to talk about it. In spite of massive treatment and having recovered from mental illness, I feel that these issues are not an integrated part of me. The secrecy is toxic so I know I have to share my story and even though I have been publicly vocal, it really never flows without pause.
So, why do I write this blog and speak openly during interviews and public speaking engagements?
The truth is, I feel like I don't have a choice. With staggering statistics around mental illness and the preventable loss of lives from suicide -- no one really has the luxury of being shy about this life-threatening health issue. I feel that it is my responsibility to help curb the secrecy and shame, and to provide hope through the details of my recovery. As apprehensive as I may feel, I know that I must put my own discomfort aside because I always get feedback that my recovery inspires others to be more open. Believe it or not, while I look comfortable in this interview from Kirsty TV, it actually felt like I was diving off the high dive. But again, I knew I had to do it in the name of unity for the cause of mental health.
Inspired by Patrick Kennedy and Lady Gaga's courage, I join this club of fierce advocates with this interview about my history of mental illness. Let's each vow to be as brave as Patrick Kennedy and Lady Gaga by being open about our mental health "secrets." We must let the world know that we are more than "just." #IamNotJust an advocate, I'm a survivor.
If you -- or someone you know -- need help, please call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. If you are outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of international resources.