“You are so brave to share your story,” many people have said to me throughout the years.
“Thank you,” I would humbly reply and never felt like I was brave.
Each time I share my story of living, surviving and overcoming severe mental illness it becomes easier and the need to be brave becomes less. Additionally, the statement of “I am so brave to share my story” becomes even more inaccurate and untrue.
“I never felt brave. I was just being me, and that was the only way I knew how to be.”
I know when people say I am brave to share my story of living with mental illness, they think it is a compliment. However, sometimes it doesn’t feel like a compliment to me. It reminds me I am different than them somehow, when I don’t feel as if I am and I don’t want to be.
“I just took a different path that brought us to the same place.”
I feel like they think I am brave to share what is wrong with me and how I am different than them. It sounds like they are saying they think my story is so unbelievable and different that it must take courage to speak of it and I should be ashamed of it.
I, on the other hand, am not embarrassed or ashamed of my life or myself. I am proud of who I have become–my strength, courage, determination and resiliency to overcome my illness and many obstacles along the way.