Today, I worked to help break the mental illness stigma in our community by sharing my story with students at Kaplan College. The audience was made up of medical- field students not related to mental health.
When I spoke about my experiences with PTSD and psychogenic non-epileptic seizures — how the world now felt like a personal dystopia — meaning the world visually is similar to the past, and it appears as it should for the moment, but only I can feel and see the devastation and change – a student raised her hand.
She told me I was not alone and that she too understood this other world. The acronyms that describe her challenges are different than mine, but our understanding and experiences were very similar.
After that she shared her story, right there in front of her peer group, teachers, mentors and friends. She spoke up in a room of people who could judge her and harshly. These folks are her fellow students and potential future co-workers. The stigma could greatly affect her career. And I believed she worried about that out loud too while talking.
But wow, she blew me away. That and she kept sharing her story .
It takes a serious spine of steel to come out mentally ill. What the hell, it took me nine months after training with Each Mind Matters to finally share my story on video and post it to YouTube. That was three years after I lost my career and the capacity to blend in with neurotypicals on many days.
And this student, the first public/stranger event I share my story at, humbles me to the core. She spoke up to tell me I wasn’t alone. Damn, her spine isn’t steel. That girl is titanium. Bravo!
[Originally posted on Facebook: December 3 at 6:08pm]