We like to tell stories. Long before technology streamlined our communication to texts, posts, comments and tweets, we shared stories. Why are we drawn to them? In his Wired magazine article, The Art of Immersion: Why Do We Tell Stories?, Frank Rose writes that, “We use stories to make sense of our world and to share that understanding with others.”
Unscientifically speaking, most stories we share in a day may be rather mundane. Not that they don’t have a value at the time, but like peanuts, the flavors begin to run together after a handful. Then, there are the deeply personal stories. These stories are not only a source of healing for the storyteller, but are also helpful to others. For a person contending with a mental illness, a story can truly be powerful therapy.
The benefits of sharing stories extend to friends and family members, too. While these stories aren’t meant to replace sound counseling therapy, having the opportunity to share how you witnessed pain, healing, or both, may be the spark needed for someone else to decide to share their story. Once we begin sharing, it’s not longer a topic “we don’t talk about.”
Years ago, families handled situations involving mental illness by not talking about it. Not only was it kept quiet, but in many cases, the family member was sent away.
Fortunately, the approach to providing care for those struggling with mental illness has changed, and many people go on to live productive lives. These are the kinds of stories that are worth sharing. Stories of hope. Stories that heal.
And yes, there are stories that don’t have positive endings, but even they can provide insight for someone else, especially in regards to early intervention. If you have a story to tell, and you believe it’s ok to share, please do so. It can be a story from your own childhood, or one of a son or a daughter who suffered from depression and how you handled it, or a friend who experienced the reality of mental illness. A person who reads it may take your story and use it to change someone’s life—possibly their own.
One in Five Minds has a place where you can share your stories. Please consider how your story can help heal someone else.