People have always asked me how I have the guts to speak so openly about my personal mental health. How that sort of thing is very private and should never be put on display for others. Many have called me stupid for putting my life out there, for everyone to see. That there is a certain kind of weakness that goes along with allowing others access to your vulnerabilities. Then, there are some that call me brave, strong, and an innovator in our time, for sharing it all. Either way, others will always judge you, so why not be judged on truth?! To me, every moment is a teaching moment - if you let it be one. I mean, how can we learn and become compassionate to others if we don't share? You can't have it both ways.
It is no big secret that I suffer from mental illness. For most of my life, I was ashamed of it (and if I am truthful, a big part of me always will be). For those in the back or new to the scene, a tiny recap:
I suffer from severe panic and anxiety, along with depression and an eating disorder. Fun cocktail right? Trust me, it's anything but. My anxiety is medically considered "general" however, it stems from (and directly related to) areas of death, illness, and health concerns. It can come on at any time, for any reason but those are my main focal areas of concern. When the anxiety is continual, it exudes its way out of my body via incredible panic attacks, that I'm always very surprised haven't killed me yet. My depression comes about for many reasons but, the main feeling it takes on has to do with feeling alone. This is somewhat ironic because I'd rather be alone than be seen on most days. It's not because I'm an introvert, quite the opposite really. I absolutely love people, love life, and crave the next adventure. But the darkness (the illness), keeps me believing that I'm too afraid to step above or beyond my comfort zones. It allows me to believe that I am not normal, that I cannot have normal/natural and growing relationships with anyone, or anything. Luckily, I'm a very defiant creative by nature and I always try my best to push and challenge the boundaries of that fear. Sometimes I win, sometimes I lose. But I don't normally go down without a fight. All this being said, it is very important you understand something. Whether I fight off the illness or succumb to it, I don't want any of this! I don't "choose" to struggle with mental illness. The illness is NOT a choice, contrary to what most of society believes. None of us want to live in fear on purpose. All we can do is fight one demon at a time. Most of the time it gets old for others around us. We find ourselves trying to prove that we are strong, that we are worthy, that we are capable - but it gets lost in translation when all anyone can see is the illness. How I deal with my illness, however, is of my own choice. That means that I choose not to be medicated in any way. Rather, I use a holistic and natural approach to dealing with my struggles. I don't like medication, I never have. That is not to say that it cannot be helpful. Or, that it has not been extremely helpful for others. I don't judge. What I am saying is that for me, I want to utilize every other resource I can and leave meds to a last resort. This is only my opinion of course and how I choose to deal with it all.
So, I've decided that I'm done with the judgment. I'm done with it from others, but most importantly from myself. I don't want to live in fear and judgment any longer. Nor, do I want others who suffer to feel this way either. Which is why I've decided to give birth to #ignitethechat
Ignite The Chat is a brand new podcast, that I will be hosting, beginning this fall. October 2020, to be exact. The podcast will speak about all things mental health, covering any and all forums surrounding the illness. It will be a show for all of us - the sufferers and caregivers alike. But, we won't stop there. There will be a place for everyone - especially those who may have never experienced (or know of anyone who has ever experienced) mental illness before. It will be a place for everyone to learn, care, and heal together - just by talking. The podcast will be filled with many insightful /helpful things but its main focal point will be a "human library" archive, where we will be sharing personal stories, from all walks of life. You will not only hear the stories but truly feel what it's like to live them - every day.
But #ignitethechat is more than just a podcast, more than just a sharing arena. It is a way of life. A new way of communication. By raising the vibration of compassion and understanding, together we can end the stigmas that surround this important topic - once and for all. As a society, we no longer have to accept that hiding and living in fear are the only ways to deal with mental illness. If we are alone the darkness wins. If we share we diminish its hold on us, so we can finally be free.
I am not a doctor, a holistic healer, or a professional in the area of mental health. But, I am an expert on myself. I am someone who knows first hand what it's like to live with this illness, every, single day. I also know what it's like to watch others I love struggle, relapse, and take their lives because they feel like no one understands them. I don't know about you but, I'd much rather spend time talking to those who know what it's like to be me and to educate others who have no clue about the process. Only those who are living it know what we go through. No doctor or therapist could ever possibly explain it better unless they themselves are on the same ride. I'd like to talk to others whom I can share stories with and try to help us heal together - one conversation at a time.
So, I hope you will join us by following our page on Instagram, our website, and subscribing to our upcoming podcast series. I cannot lie to you. It will not be for the faint at heart. The stories and conversations will be very raw and at times hard to listen to. I will push your level of comfortability as much as I can because I honestly believe its important to do so. And, I will challenge you to face that feeling, to look at it and deal with it, rather than look the other way. That's where the learning happens and where the healing begins. If no one gets uncomfortable, nothing will ever change.
Looking so forward to this new venture, I hope you are too.