Monday, August 29, 2016

Shattering Stigmas Event Recap

Guys, I'm honestly pretty sad to be writing this wrap-up post. Last year's event was SO GREAT, and I was honored that Shannon asked me to be one of the co-hosts for Part 2. As I mentioned in the kickoff post, mental health is personal and important to me. And helping shatter the stigmas attached to it is also incredibly personal and important to me. And it is so, so needed. I'm glad there are books out there now that people can reach for and find pieces of themselves in. I'm glad there are books that can reach those who don't know, those who do and don't know what to do, and those who just need that extra push to ask for help or talk about their problems. I'm especially glad that teenagers have these books. I wish I'd had some of these books as a teen. I think they've helped get rid of the negative stigmas attached to mental illness, but my one hope is that someday MI won't have ANY stigmas attached. So that it'll become easier for people to ask for help.

I thought about getting personal this year. I thought about going deep and un-burying parts of my past and trudging some things up that would give you a clearer picture of exactly why I think this event is so amazing and how honored I am to have been a host this year. I thought about explaining more of what shattering the stigmas means to me. I thought about sharing what life has been like growing up with a family member who has bipolar disorder and schizoaffective disorder. I thought about sharing how grief can become something more that can quietly sneak up on you without your knowledge. I thought about sharing why I think books that are therapy and medication-positive are needed more than books that don't talk about them at all. I thought about sharing my fears of what it means to have a degree in psychology without a clue what I'm going to do with it after the last few years of my life have gotten clearer for me. I thought about it.

I'm not there yet. I'm generally not afraid to get personal on the blog, but there are some parts that seem too deep and too painful. I mean, writing that poem about my dad and sharing it took a lot of guts and a lot of time of contemplation and "should I or shouldn't I?" Emotional pain has always been so hard for me to share; I can't even stand crying in front of others because of it. It's SO difficult for me, and words have failed me time and time again. And I haven't found the courage in myself to open up. I think I am still hung-up on a few of the negative stigmas (the ones that are the reason for this event and why we need it) attached to mental illness. And I'm aware of that, but it hasn't made it any easier, and I honestly wish I was as brave as some of you. Your posts have given me a lot of courage and strength, and I found myself relating to so many of them and it was inspiring to read them. And because of them, I will one day be able to share my own story.

But instead, I'm just going to say THANK YOU! Thank you to every single person who has read or shared or commented on these posts. Your support has meant SO much to me and to the other hosts. And thank you to my fabulous co-hosts, Inge, Erica, and Topaz, and especially Shannon for inviting to be part of this. I can't even put into words how much it meant to me, friend. Thank you to all of those who wrote posts for this, whether it was on my blog or someone else's. Thank you to Val, Krista & Becca Ritchie, Samantha, Lynette, Taylor, Sarah, Claire Legrand, Zoey, S. Usher Evans, Grace, and Michelle Smith. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for not only wanting to participate in this event, but for sharing such amazing posts. Thank you for for sharing your stories with us. You are all brave and kind and thoughtful, and I'm so grateful for y'all filling up my blog schedule. Thank you for helping us make this event's second year so special, and for helping us try to shatter the stigmas attached to mental health. THANK YOU!

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I have fallen so behind on reading/commenting on the posts, so I will continue to do so this weekend when I'm off work. I hope you've all enjoyed this event and all the posts people shared on our blogs. But even though it's over, you can still enter the giveaway! :)