Speaking about mental health can be difficult. I did many things that were out of my character when I was fighting my mental health battle. I hung out with people who were of poor character, abused alcohol and opioids, even got into verbal fights with close family members. At the time I was so deep in my depression I couldn’t tell who was looking back at me in the mirror. It wasn’t until I began to speak publicly about my mental health battle.
The fear of public speaking is known as glossophobia. When I started to speak about mental health I was terrified. We live in a world where we can paint the perfect picture of ourselves on social media. We only expose people to our best pictures, our new promotions, and luxurious vacations. On stage I am exposing people to the deepest, and darkest moments of my life. Terrifying...just terrifying.
Before the book signings, before the large audiences, and before the money, you must believe in your speech. The first time that I spoke about my mental health battles I was embarrassed. There was a long period of my life where I didn’t have those social media moment to share. I wanted to hide from the public, even while on stage. This is when I learned my most valuable lesson in public speaking.
To deliver a great speech, you have to believe in what you are talking about! I am writing this blog post still a rookie in the professional speaking business. There are no large audiences yet, no large paychecks, and no speeches all around the country. However, having people tell you their personal mental health stories means the world to me. It helped me build my confidence in speaking about mental health. Soon the fear went away and I was able to open up to my audience more.
I am now able to speak about the darker side of my mental health battle. My thoughts about suicide, drinking with the intention to black out and never wake up, and avoiding all human interaction are now all subjects I speak about. I can get rid of “social media syndrome” because now I realize that even people behind those happy Facebook posts may be dealing with mental health issues. It becomes harder and harder to put up this false life, especially when you are hurting mentally.
If you are reading this and dealing with mental health issues, you are not alone. It took me years to speak about my issues, and I chose a very large stage to do so. You may not decide to speak about you issues in front of an audience but you may speak to a small group of people. The thing about speaking about mental health is you never know who’s listening in the audience. Speaking about you issues may save the life of someone else dealing with mental health issues. I was afraid, terrified during my first speech on mental health. But a lion must roar, and roar loudly!