9 months sober and I could not be more grateful. May is Mental Health Month in the United States. The purpose of this month is to begin, inspire, and nurture conversations about mental health that persist well into the future. It is impossible to talk about mental health without also discussing stigma—the times when silence becomes the loudest voice in the room or keeps the conversation from happening at all. When stigma and fear and misunderstanding thrive, our assumptions become our absolutes and our struggles are left to take root within us.
To Write Love on Her Arms and I believe that four statements are black and white, impossible to refute.
(1) I Am Worthy of Hope.
Read that again. Once more, but aloud this time. You can repeat those words as often as needed until you believe it. One of my mantras is “I am enough. I am worthy. I am loved.” Hope is real. If hope is the quality of believing in better things, then know that I adamantly believe in you. I believe that hope is universal, that you can’t waive your right to it regardless of place or experience. It is not something earned nor bargained for. It opens us up to the possibility of healing and understanding and growth. Hope plays a pivotal and consistent role in what keeps you alive, and I need you to know that you are undeniably worthy of both its presence and power. I have the word tattooed on the bottom of my right arm, because without hope, I would’ve given up a long time ago. I wouldn’t be 9 months sober today and I wouldn’t be able to live a life that I am proud of. Recovery from mental illness and/or addiction is possible. You can do this. You are worthy of hope.
(2) It Is Okay to Ask for Help.
Holding on to hope is a choice. The pain you navigate and endure is not. While hope reminds us to keep going, pain has a tendency to isolate us. It can replace the loving and nurturing voices in our lives with the lie that says our struggles can’t be shared with others. But I am certain that other people can and should be part of the equation. Finding healing within yourself does not mean you have to do it by yourself. Asking for help can be done without shame, without apology, and without a feeling of weakness. What it does involve is the courage and bravery to know that it exists and that there are people who want to offer it to you. You have never been expected to find a path toward recovery on your own. The story is yours to tell, but this journey involves supporting characters, too, who are cheering for you. I have had amazing people in my story who have loved me and walked my journey to recovery with me. There are honestly too many people to list out. I am beyond grateful for the help I have received throughout the years.
(3) Your Story Is Important.
Every story ever told has one thing in common: an audience. This story of yours, pages and chapters of struggle and strength, uncertainty and passion, is worthy of eyes, ears, and collaboration. When I say that your story is important, I’m encouraging you to share it, because in telling your story, you can collide with and inspire others. Perhaps we all have grown accustomed to hearing stories in the past tense, prefaced by words like “once upon a time.” But your story, above all else, is captivating in that it is still going. Unfinished, unfiltered, unabridged, unfolding–no matter where you are, your story and your life are important to us. And I am honored to hear it. If I didn’t believe that my story mattered, I’d have no reason to be transparent about my recovery. My story can make a difference in someone’s life… and so can yours.
(4) We Need You Here.
I write this with urgency: We need you here. What that doesn’t require, however, is your perfection. I don’t need your story to be edited or polished. And I don’t need your recovery to be linear and free from detours and rerouting. It’s just you that we all need. Your presence and all it entails—perfectly imperfect with questions and wisdom, stumbles and leaps, heartache and joy. People don’t need to know you personally to find the value in your breathing that feeds the trees, your songs that break the silence, and your waking that every sunrise shows up for. Ever since you came into this world, we haven’t taken a breath without you in it. Your existence has impacted others to a degree where I can’t imagine this place separate from your presence. So when you feel convinced that you are not wanted or too broken to be cared for, know that you are not only welcome here, but you are needed.
Let’s continue to be honest about our stories. Let’s be fearless in the sharing of our pain and of our hope.
The original article can be found here.