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When you’re not yet ready to tell your story

Through the Wellness Wednesdays shows, I’ve had the privilege of listening to people speak with extraordinary courage about their lives — specifically about events and experiences that society often judges harshly — and risk criticism to help others.

Our guests’ willingness to publicly share their journeys toward hope and healing has given others the chance to see their lives more compassionately and created space for them to consider sharing their own stories in a beautiful cycle of continued healing.

But what if you’re not ready to speak publicly about your personal struggles?

Help and Hope Southcoast was created as a campaign to start conversations around mental health and, in talking about it, end the stigma. But that doesn’t mean we should all be prepared to go public with our mental health experiences.

Choosing the right time and place, and most importantly the right people, is crucial to making the experience a positive one.

A good place to start is by listening to others, and the National Alliance on Mental Illness provides a program that allows you to do that virtually.

In Our Own Voice is a powerful presentation that features trained speakers who tell their mental health stories openly, including the challenges and healing they’ve found along the way.

The program “aims to change attitudes, assumptions, and stereotypes about people living with mental health conditions,” through these conversations, according to the website description.

The live virtual format lets viewers ask questions and get answers directly from people who have lived the journey.

It also allows them to see how others have supported themselves and received support from others, and how they tell their stories with acceptance and compassion for themselves.

As one presenter said in a promotional video about the programs, “By sharing our stories with each other, we helped each other a lot today. I felt like I was not alone.”

Whether you’re a person who has been diagnosed with a mental illness, has a close friend or family member with one, or who has struggled on their own with symptoms and challenges, check out the next NAMI Massachusetts In Our Own Voice presentation today at 3 p.m. by registering here; or, see a schedule for future presentations.

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