Over the past few years I have read many articles about people speaking publicly about their mental illness. Most people have said it was a very positive experience, though others have said they experienced stigma in one way or another.
When I decided to start writing a blog I kept thinking about what articles I found most helpful. I always came back to the ones that told me their story. The “hero’s journey” where the often lonely struggle existed and then the period of rebuilding life and finally the light at the end of the tunnel.
During my long journey I will admit there were those very painful, dark and lonely days when I wondered if life was worth it anymore. I danced along the edges with suicidal ideation tormenting my mind. I kept fighting the bipolar depression symptoms and prayed for some how and some way they would release their tight fisted grip. But even in the moments of greatest despair I refused to give up hope not really knowing how things were going to turn out, but holding on to the idea that one day I would look back and say, “I made it!”
Over a year ago I set out to try my hand at blogging. When I did that I wanted to be honest with those who took the time to read my posts. This meant I would need to tell who I was and how much I had struggled. I quietly went about my days working toward a time when I could stand up and tell people publicly about my struggle with bipolar disorder.
Because of my past athletic accomplishments I have been blessed with a great platform to speak out about mental illness. Yesterday an article was published in my hometown newspaper and shared extensively on Facebook.
When I first read the headline, “Mental Illness was Toughest Hurdle for Gamble,” I was struck by the fact I had publicly “come out” with something so deeply personal. I can tell you that I was taken back by all the many people who responded to that article in such a positive way. I simply did not expect so many people to applaud me for taking such a vocal approach to mental illness.
Not everyone may feel the need or have the desire to speak out about their own disorder, but I can tell you for me it was absolutely the best decision I have ever made.
The caveat to all of this is there are many people who are eager to open up and speak willingly about mental illness. This says to me that today I have helped take one small step forward in fighting stigma and for that I feel very blessed to have made a difference.