Keir (@Keir_M_Heath), for the blog lifeafterandlessonsdepression.blogspot.co.uk, writes about his experiences with depression for our Power of Storytelling campaign
Depression can strike at any time, as I found out at 16 and a half. Years after my recovery, I began to write about my experiences over those difficult months. Now, President of Student Minds at Cambridge, I want to talk about why I write and what I hope to achieve.
What inspired you to share your story?
For a long time after I had recovered, I wanted to speak out about my experiences, and give my opinions on the matter of mental health but it was a speaker event I attended which prompted me to start. I wanted to explain what it felt like to suffer from depression, to help other people to have the confidence to speak out themselves and to explain the opinions that I hold.
Has telling your story helped you?
Yes it has. Instantly, I received a huge number of messages from friends, and some other people, which I didn’t expect, telling me how brave I was and how important the message was. Wider impacts of my blogging became apparent when people began to approach me to share their own experiences. The major lasting effects have been on my activism. As a result of speaking out, I believe that I have been able to make a real impact in encouraging discussion and action on mental health.
Has telling your story helped anyone else?
As mentioned above, people have approached me to discuss not only my experiences but theirs. Additionally, I think that knowing I that that I would not judge other people meant that they were much more willing to ask for advice and signposting, either for themselves or their friends.
What did you find hardest about sharing your story?
Mental illness is always a very personal story and while I have become very comfortable in sharing my stories, others are not. When my stories have involved my parents, friends or even lovers it becomes very difficult. Wanting to be honest and tell of my experiences must compete with protecting others’ right to privacy.
Do you have any advice for someone who is thinking of sharing their story?
Just go for it. Don’t share immediately but read it through a couple of times until you’re happy and comfortable. I have never met anything but kindness and support from the people I write for.
Finally I will just say that sharing your story may be one of the most powerful and important things you can do. I speak because I have the confidence, and an ego which likes to be heard, in the hope that others will feel able to speak themselves or just ask and receive the help that they need.
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