Sharing stories with one another fills the space between us. Through sharing our stories, we forge new and strong relationships. We learn recovery is possible. We find hope.
In my book where the Water Meets the Sand, I describe several occasions when the stories of others brought me comfort and strength.
Sharing stories with my friends and other patients at The Menninger Clinic emphasized the love and support amongst us, no matter how different our symptoms were. I admit there were even times I listened thinking, Thank God, I’m not that bad! It remains a time in my life that I look back on often, as a reminder that no matter how different someone may seem on the surface, there are always commonalities that bring us together.
Thirteen years later and early in my sobriety I listened to a speaker telling his story at a self-support group. He said he was grateful he got sober after five years of binge drinking and that he was celebrating ten years of sobriety. Full of pity and still angry that I was one of those people who couldn’t enjoy a drink without going overboard and couldn’t quit, I thought to myself, you must not have been so bad if you only drank for five years. If I had ten years of sobriety, I wouldn’t still be coming here.
Yet, those true stories shared by recovering people like him, kept me going back to meetings and kept me from taking a drink between. I carried those stories with me throughout the day and repeated them in the middle of the night when I craved just one more drink, just one more time.
By sharing our stories, those of us who have suffered can bring hope to others and lend our voices to ending the stigma of mental illness or addiction. Now that I am telling my story nationally, inspiring entire neighborhoods and bringing hope to those who suffer, I feel the true impact of coming forward and speaking honestly about my experiences.
My goal in writing my book and speaking out, is that others, suffering in silence, begin to feel safe as well, and join the national conversation.
The journey of recovery & sobriety is much like a commitment to writing or telling our story. When individuals are writing to heal they need to focus on four points:
- A decision to begin
- A willingness to reach out
- A commitment to follow through
- Write every day, one day at a time
The National Alliance on Mental Illness has two encouraging, empowering story telling platforms, including, ok2talk.org, geared specifically to help teens and young adults find comfort. When you visit Share your Story through the NAMI website, you can access tools that help anyone add their voice to this national effort.
For other opportunities to get involved and make the difference in the lives of individuals living with mental health conditions visit www.nami.org