Over 15 thousand people have read my story within the past year. The burnout, the suicide attempts, dropping out of school, and the blog post that led to The Tipping Point. I shared it with media outlets and audiences and it quickly became a script. I got tired of repeating the same thing over and over again so I changed it up. I made it less about my story and more about a community dialogue.
I don’t think of myself as a speaker or a presenter. The idea of presenting makes me incredibly anxious, so I usually don’t prepare entire scripts or outlines for these events. The morning of, I think about how I’m feeling, what message I want to get across, and how I want to engage people in a community conversation around mental health. Then I wing it.
You know you’re making an emotional impact when you make people cry.
I share my story and then ask questions like, “Why are you here, in this room? Why are you here, listening to me? Why do you care about mental health?” It makes people very uncomfortable. But a few will face that discomfort, develop the courage and get vulnerable. One person shares their story. Then another two people. And by the end, we’re all sharing our stories and feeling ALL of the emotions. The conversation starts with one mental health story and by the end, we realize that everyone has a mental health story - whether we’ve struggled with mental health ourselves, or we want to support someone who does. We talk about stigmas, shame, cultural differences, and intersectional perspectives. We talk about the glorification of overworking and the tactics of allyship. It gets deep. Real deep.
Two years ago, I attempted suicide for the first time because I felt an overwhelming sense of hopelessness and exhaustion from my advocacy work. Terrible things were happening in the world, I was working my ass off to do something about it, but I felt powerless. Two years later, I am sharing my story, encouraging others to get vulnerable, and making students cry. Apparently, I am making an impact.
This is a thank you. Thank you to the individuals who gather the courage to be vulnerable amongst their peers. Thank you to the individuals who embrace their emotions and let the tears fall. Thank you to the organizations who create these safe spaces and invite me to speak. Thank you to The Tipping Point community for giving me purpose in my life. As Brene Brown says, “Our willingness to own and engage with our vulnerability determines the depth of our courage and the clarity of our purpose.” So thank you, for being vulnerable.