Bravery...Or Is It?
I don’t know how to respond when people say I am brave for speaking out. I don’t see what I do in that way. Don’t get me wrong, I am humbled and touched by those who reach out and say kind things. My gratitude knows no bounds. Its just that for me its who I am. It’s a way of being. It’s a calling that cannot be explained or described. Its also a reminder that I shouldn’t be thought of as brave for speaking out, but because we continue to have stigma and shame its seen that way.
The amount of writing I am doing is unbelievable. Its been pouring out of me like lava and has no signs of stopping. Its as if something inside me has burst open and I can’t close it now even if I wanted to. Stopping would be like no longer breathing. I do not see it as brave…I see it as necessary. What has been extraordinary are the people who have reached out to me to share their stories. When I hear what some folks have been through in their lives, I am humbled and honoured that they choose to share those events with me. Its funny how I can see them as courageous but cannot see it in myself.
Perhaps it goes back to all the times I’ve been told to shut up, to stop talking; that I was stupid and wouldn’t amount to anything. There’s a part of me that takes some delight in showing those who expressed these things that they were wrong. My life is pretty freaking awesome! But there is also a part of my brain that consistently tells me maybe its true and deep down I am nothing. I’ve always tried to be gracious when given compliments, but they have always made me somewhat uncomfortable. That’s what my illness does. It robs me of being able to accept the kind things that others say and truly believe them.
I want to believe that I am making a difference to people by doing what I am doing. Maybe that’s why I push myself so hard all the time to be better, try harder, work more diligently. Am I trying to prove myself worthy of those kind words? On the other hand, hearing someone say you are brave implies that disclosure is a choice to be made. We live in a society where silence about mental illness is still very real. Talking and writing about this topic should be as natural as talking about physical illness…but it isn’t. I want to live in a world where it’s not considered brave to talk about mental illness. I want it to be a world where its considered a part of the overall human experience. My goal is to embrace the kindness of others and believe in myself, but to also never have anyone feel the need to call me brave ever again.