How often do we ask ourselves the questions posed in Richard Rhodes’ quote?
- Who am I?
- What right have I to speak?
- Who will listen to me if I do?
A great teacher of mine once said, “No matter what has happened in your life, you always have the right to tell your unique story NOW.”
Often, we think of our failures, our lack of trying, our excuses, as reasons to give up. We say, “I failed again, I might as well stop doing this thing I really love doing.”
But at any moment, you can choose to start again, to tell your story, to enlarge the circle.
With the passing of Robin Williams, many people have shared the stories of their experiences with depression. Each story I read gives me strength to tell my own.
My struggles with depression and anxiety happened during a time right before I was hired for my dream job. Instead of being happy about finally achieving a modicum of success, I had constant worries and thoughts about how it could all go wrong. I thought I deserved my illness somehow, that I was a bad person and was being punished. I thought that I didn’t deserve happiness.
Then, when I sought help, I realized that those thoughts had more to do with mixed-up brain chemistry and the need to share my stories more openly and live a more authentic life than anything to do with who I was as a person. The depression was causing me to think of myself as undeserving and bad and wrong. My only crime was being human.
Those closest to me didn’t understand. They said things like, “Cheer up, don’t be sad, look on the bright side,” and other clichés that people say to those who are feeling down. But depression is not just feeling down. It is a dark, spiral staircase that descends into a deep cellar of despair and loneliness.
It took a mental health doctor and prescribed medication and telling my stories to really help me recover.
I lost some important relationships and a job or two while I struggled with depression. I look back on those years and wish that I had been able to find help sooner. Maybe by sharing this story now, I can help someone else find the help they need more quickly.
Those relationships and that job cannot be recovered, but I can continue sharing my stories with passion and hopefully enlarging the circle.
Please share your stories, you have every right.
Watch Richard Rhodes talk about his writing on YouTube.com
Get Richard Rhodes’ book How to Write: Advice and Reflections on Amazon.com.
If you are feeling desperate, please call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline 800-273-TALK or visit them at http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/