Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Little ripples will cause waves of change

We need to talk about mental health, that much we already know. But I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess there are millions of people with stories of struggle and suffering, but also of recovery and strength hidden away inside them. 

It's these stories the world needs to hear more of so that perceptions of mental illness change, so the stigma is smashed. But how can people find the courage to speak up? Who goes first? Well, here's a thought...what if that person was you? 

I could reel off a compendium of quotes which remind me why I talk openly about my battle with anxiety and anorexia, my favourites are "You have to be brave with your life so that others can be brave with theirs" and "be the change you wish to see in the world."

It's reading about other people's recovery which first inspired me to be open about mine. I knew hearing about their fight gave me hope I could do the same. Knowing I wasn't alone battling with an eating disorder was comforting. I realised that I shouldn't be ashamed about it. It helped me find my voice, it made me realise it's Time to Talk. 

Since the day I realised this, my aim has not been to cause waves with my voice alone, but to inspire other's to find theirs, to join in and create their own ripples. To speak up. Today I felt this ripple effect.

Through my own recovery blog and tweets I met a young woman in Staffordshire being treated at the same eating disorders unit as me. When we first hugged, she was frail, broken and scared. She had no voice, she was fearful of her own mind. I could see myself two years prior right there in front of me. Since then, she's fought (hard) to find that hidden voice, the courage to be herself.  Why am I telling you about her? Well, today she's the focus of a week-long 'Exploring Eating Disorders' special on Signal 1 News. 

This is the power of the ripple in action. Through me talking openly about eating disorders, it's reassured her it's okay to do the same. This is the first time Sarah Pustkowski has been this open with her mental health problems. It's still not easy to talk about mental health, that's why we need to keep fighting and talking.

It was powerful for me as a journalist to interview her and I have no doubt that in her finding her voice and sharing it on the radio to more than 300,000 listeners, her ripple will be contributing to the wave.

Sarah and I enjoying recovery together.
What I do know is that each contributing ripple makes a difference. We can't create world-changing waves alone, nope, but if everyone who shared their experience of mental illness inspired just one other person to be brave, we'd have a tsunami on our hands. 

You go first?

Listen to the EXPLORING EATING DISORDERS news special HERE
Get help from BEAT (the eating disorders charity) HERE
FOOD FOR THOUGHT: “Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”― Robert F. Kennedy


Kowareta Doll said...

great post! i'm looking forward to listening to the interview later. You're right about other peoples recovery stories being inspiring. It just proves that this illness really CAN be beaten and you are not alone. xo

Sarah Leanne said...

This is a wonderful tribute to your honesty and strength Sarah. The waves of wisdom have certainly been passed on to me, and I am confident enough now to have my voice heard for all of the world to see that it is okay to have a mental illness. It is okay to seek help even in the depths of despair. Each one of us is worth the fight, we are all our own saviours. Never loose hope in the power of the unheard voices.