It’s been a couple weeks since I’ve blogged. I took a week off after my last post, which discussed results from some Facebook Polls I took, concerning mental health. After that week I was so distracted with other things I decided I wasn’t in the right mindset to blog. If you’re a writer, you know what I mean.
So where the heck have I been? Don’t worry, 95% of the time I’ve been great. A rough day or two since we last met, but nothing to be super worried about. They were just days I consider “normal” and sort of expected. It has taken a lot of practice just to get to the point of embracing them, but even with their anticipated arrival, I’d still rather do without them. But less is good, so I’m on the right path. I’ve come a long way in managing my mental health and I try to become better at it each day.
After I last posted, there happened to be some talk about why I share my business with all of the world? I’m not naming names because that’s not the kind of person I am, but it still bothered me that I got word of it.
If you know me, you know that I wear my heart on my sleeve. It’s all or nothing for me, even if that means I’m taking a risk of exposing information that could open paths of judgement. I’m okay with that. I’ve been fairly open with who I am for several years now, and not one time, has it brought me harm. I enjoy that part of being human; sharing with others and making meaningful connections through my personal story. It has proven to be nothing short of spectacular. So, that’s the most obvious reason why I choose to blog and post my story all over Facebook. Technically, it’s not “all over Facebook”, it’s on my personal timeline. I also have a blog of course, or website if you prefer. I’ve also encouraged friends and family to share with others.
I recently made one of these connections with a stranger on an airplane. Last weekend I flew to Wisconsin to support my sister in her first physique competition. She was awesome BTW! While on the plane (remember, flying is where I was first inspired to start blogging) I met a man named Musa. We got to talking and I told him all about The Sol Bus. He then wanted to know why such an adventure that most people would never take on. Of course I told him about the hard times my wife and I went through over the last two years in North Carolina. My mental health came up and he immediately responded with, “That’s funny you say that because I’ve been having a difficult time understanding my 19 year old son.” He proceeded to share with me that as a military man, he is frustrated by his son’s lack of motivation, poor hygiene, and severe social anxiety. After talking to his son and his wife, they decided it was best to meet with a mental health professional to determine what was going on. Based on the information Musa shared with me, it was clear that his son was struggling with something only a professional could help mend.
I may never know how his appointment goes, since it was a future appointment, and beyond my time with Musa. In the 2 hour plane ride we talked the entire way, mostly about my personal story and how he could better support his son. He thanked me numerous times for opening up to him because even if he still was lost in understanding his son, he felt like he could be more compassionate. He later shared that his daughter received her master’s degree in mental health counseling. We shared so much on that plane ride.
Do you know what we said to each other? IT WAS MEANT TO BE! This interaction with a complete stranger, is what I live for. It was validation that sharing can open up a world of change.
There are other reasons why I have chosen to share my personal story with you. If I don’t talk, who will? If I want to help our society eliminate the stigma surrounding mental illness, then I have to talk. It has to start somewhere. Somewhere can be anywhere, but if one person starts the wave, hopefully it continues until it sweeps across the country.
They say to ‘Be the Change You Wish to See in the World’. At least that’s what I believe. Though I’ve made mistakes, I am completely confident in saying that I’ve stayed true to my values. That’s what matters. I choose to see the best in people. We all have the ability to right our wrongs, to believe in each other, and to step outside the box. To be that change.
If you’re of the mind-set that you’re just one small person in a world of billions, then you don’t get very far do you? But one person CAN make a difference. That’s why I choose to share my personal story, because it’s personal. It means a lot to me that I can courageously step outside of my box to reach others, even if it’s just one. I know I’ve already done that. But I’m far from accomplishing all of my goals. I have more work to do. I want to reach more people.
So those who question my sharing are free to do so, but you don’t get to angrily, resentfully, and disrespectfully judge me. You can have opinions that you keep to yourself. I respect that. Just know that I may know someone you know, that I reach. Doesn’t that matter to you? What if I’m that person that feels comfortable talking about mental illness and I’m able to open my heart and listen to others who are afraid to talk about it? Because that’s who I am.
So, if I don’t talk who will? Will you? Or are you a part of the stigma? You can change that.
I just want all people to learn and grow together.