The Power of Sharing Our Stories

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I have a love-hate relationship with social media. I love staying updated on what’s happening with my family and friends, especially those that live far away. But, I hate the way it portrays life. If we scroll through almost any feed, most of what we’ll see are proclamations and pictures of happy families and success.

Here are social posts we rarely see:

The Power of Sharing Our Stories
The Power of Sharing Our Stories
The Power of Sharing Our Stories

These are the everyday realities happening behind closed doors. However, we don’t post these status updates on social media. We want people to think we have it together. But, the truth is, we don’t. I don’t know anyone that does. I used to believe that they did until I learned otherwise.

At the lowest point in my life, people were shocked because I was good at acting like I had things together. No one, not even my closest friends and family, knew the truth. I was an expert at hiding it. I knew how to put on a confident and happy face.

As I struggled to figure out life and began talking to people, I started to learn things about others and their own lives. Just like me, they were flawed, imperfect, and battled similar challenges. I never heard any of their stories before, these important stories that could have helped me out of my situation.

Why are the daily stresses and difficulties of life never shared?

We don’t want to talk about the undesirable and painful experiences in our lives. We try so hard to look like we have it all figured out because we don’t want to expose the truth to others. But, sharing what we are going through, or what we have been through, can do so much good for everyone!

We foster relationships when we share our stories.

Living with a mental illness, or being a friend or family member of someone who is, can be challenging even in the best of times. It creates so many raw emotions, feelings, and life experiences, all of which are unique and meaningful.

C.S Lewis once said, ‘Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, What! You too? I thought I was the only one.‘ I love that quote because it’s profoundly accurate. When we hide our challenges, we begin to feel alone. We start to think that we are the only ones experiencing or struggling with something. That line of thinking is hurtful, lonely, and dangerous.

Sharing our pain removes some of the power that it has over us. Having someone share their similar hardships allows us to know we are understood. We realize we are not entirely alone or unique in our suffering, and that feeling, in and of itself, makes things easier to handle. Plus, there is a lot of helpful advice earned from overcoming challenges so we have a lot we can learn from the invaluable experience of others.

Several years ago, my pastor encouraged me to connect with another woman at our church. Although we were around the same age and our kids went to the same school, we never really spoke much. My pastor knew both of our backgrounds and thought we had some things in common that we could benefit from sharing with each other. Wow, he was right!

While our experiences weren’t exactly the same, there were certainly a ton of similarities. It was comforting to know that there was someone else that could relate to what I was going through in life. We could encourage each other and check-in to see how things were progressing. This friendship would never have evolved had we both been too ashamed or embarrassed to share our stories.

Sharing our stories makes us recognize that we are not alone. We realize that we don’t have to carry the weight of the world by ourselves.

We help others when we share our stories.

Approximately 48 million American adults struggle each year with anxiety and depression. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA):

  • 6 million adults suffer from Panic Disorder
  • 15 million struggle with Social Anxiety Disorder
  • 7.7 million adults deal with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • 16.1 million adults have Major Depressive Disorder
  • 3.3 million adults battle with Persistent Depressive Disorder (formerly called dysthymia)

Their studies also found that around 1 in 4 children suffers from some form of anxiety disorder. Mental health impacts millions of lives and many are lonely, hurting, and feel hopeless. We can help them keep pushing forward by sharing our stories.

It’s encouraging to hear about someone that fought and overcame the same hardship that we endure, or when they share a tactic that helped them, and we can use it too. When we aren’t afraid to share our tribulations, they become powerful teaching tools.

Imagine what it would be like if we all were more open about sharing our struggles and failures instead of just successes. We can become role models for authenticity, lighthouses in dark storms.

We gain freedom when we share our stories.

Sometimes, when we are struggling with depression, there isn’t too much that someone else can do other than support us in our fight. But rather than just suffer silently, just verbalizing a problem can provide a feeling of relief. Like Karen Salmansohn says, ‘Sometimes you just need to talk about something – not to get sympathy or help, but just to kill its power by allowing the truth of things to hit the air.

When we hide things in our life, they often seem worse than they are or they even grow into more significant problems. However, if we are willing to speak about the struggles we face to another person, it often helps diffuse the power the problem has over us. Frequently, you’ll find that just hearing the fear out loud, releases some of its force.

Something is freeing about admitting we are ‘not okay.’ Concealing depression is exhausting; pretending not to have anxiety just makes it that much harder to endure. When we stop hiding our struggles, we no longer need to do the hard work that deception requires. We can redistribute this energy into improving our situation.

Also, it helps bring awareness to those around us. When our friends and family know that we’re struggling with mental illness, they can watch for signs of progress or get out in front of a worsening problem. Plus, if they aren’t informed, they may be confused by our attitude and conduct, leading them to misinterpret our behavior.

Sharing our stories will empower and inspire others. While doing so, we unburden ourselves of the guilt and shame. Like Iyanla Vanzant says, ‘It’s important that we share our experiences with other people. Your story will heal you, and your story will heal somebody else. When you tell your story, you free yourself and give other people permission to acknowledge their own story.

These valuable stories must come to light, and here at Sad Runner, it’s just a small part of what makes our community so great. From heartfelt narratives, chalked full of vivid life lessons by everyday mental health warriors, to action-oriented, extensively researched articles loaded with tips, stats, and information, we all become strong and unified through the experiences we share here with each another.

We are a brave collective of remarkable people who inspire, comfort, educate, and encourage. Our stories build a community that fosters knowledge, camaraderie, compassion, and motivation in others. So please share Sad Runner with others. Let’s use our united voices to support and strengthen anyone affected by mental illness and motivate them to keep moving forward.

Stephanie Kirby
Stephanie Kirby

Married with three daughters, Stephanie Kirby wouldn't be here without faith which gives her strength to overcome the depression in her life and she hopes others will learn from her experiences. When she isn't doing what she loves most, writing, you'll find her planning her next trip to Disney World; an addiction Stephanie adores talking about daily.