This Is Why I’ve Decided to Keep Telling My Story (Despite My Struggle with Fear and Insecurity)

by | May 8, 2019 | Uncategorized | 8 comments

When I finally began to heal from my lifelong struggle with depression, anxiety, and addiction I knew I wanted to use my experience to help others.

Because I have a Master’s Degree in Social Work, I briefly considered returning to the mental health field. But as I continued on my own healing journey, I began to see just how broken the mental health system is and ultimately decided I couldn’t go back to recommending the same treatments that had failed me.

Instead, I decided to build this website to tell my story and help others.

Last summer I launched my blog. I was three years into my healing journey, one year off meds, and still tender from an intense battle to save my life. I put my story out there not knowing what to expect or if anyone would pay attention.

The result? People paid attention.

While the responses were mostly kind, I was quickly overwhelmed. I never stopped believing my message was important yet I struggled to contain the strong feelings that came with being honest and vulnerable.

Vulnerability is H-A-R-D.

Feeling the weight of other people’s suffering is also hard.

Daily I was contacted by people who had questions or needed help. Not just strangers but also friends and family. The number of people I’m acquainted with who cannot find relief from their mental health symptoms was staggering – even to me.

It’s not that I don’t want to hear people’s stories and help, because I do. It’s that I hadn’t realized the extent to which the mental health crisis has grown, or how many people were desperate for good help but lacking the resources to get it.

Then I had a series of women reach out to me in crisis because they had quit their meds cold turkey (which is almost without exception the worst way to stop). This gave me pause. Did they stop their meds because of me? I started to fear that instead of helping people, I might be hurting them.

At the same time, the organization that helped me heal went through some significant changes, and I realized it was no longer a place I could recommend sending people like myself for help. This was a big disappointment, and I needed some time to think about what I actually wanted to do with my story and this website.

So I took the site down.

But now I’m putting it back up. Here’s why:

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I want people to know healing is possible. Finding good mental healthcare isn’t easy, and no one has figured out a great way to get people off psych meds – but that shouldn’t stop those of us who are passionate about helping others from trying. All great movements started out with brave individuals willing to work towards their vision – despite the seeming impossibilities of it ever coming together.

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The place that started my healing journey may no longer be a good option for people, but there are still many resources available – functional medicine, naturopathic medicine, nutrition consultants and even the rogue holistic-minded psychiatrist. Many providers are frustrated with the limitations of conventional medicine and are starting to turn to nutrition and other holistic remedies.

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I don’t want to let fear guide my decisions. I would never recommend anyone quit their meds cold turkey and after some reflection and wise counsel, I can see clearly that my website didn’t encourage that. I’ve always been upfront about how I got better and the mistakes I’ve made along the way. The ultimate goal isn’t to be off meds – it’s to be healthy. Quitting cold turkey isn’t likely to create health – usually, it just sends people into crisis.

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I have a unique perspective that I believe can help people. We are often given two options for mental health treatment: medication and talk therapy. This limited approach to treatment often harms people because it fails to treat the root cause of symptoms. On the other side is the antipsychiatry movement which promotes the belief that all mental health treatment is inherently harmful and needs to be abolished. I view this approach as also hurtful. Good mental health treatment might be hard to find, but it is available. It might be easier if this issue were black and white – but ultimately I’ve realized it’s more complicated than that.

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Vulnerability is the gift I choose to give myself – regardless of my fears. As Brené Brown says, “You either walk into your story and own your truth, or you live outside of your story, hustling for your worthiness.” I’m afraid that telling my story will bring me more pain. That others will view me as the sick, broken girl I believed I was for so long. But I know that owning my story is the doorway to love and acceptance. I also know that it has never mattered what anyone else thought about me, it has only ever mattered what I believed about myself. Shedding my own self-judgment was a huge part of how I got better – and I choose to keep showing up for myself regardless of my fear.

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I want to move the conversation forward. I genuinely believe we are on the verge of breakthroughs in how we treat mental health symptoms. I’m putting myself out there as an advocate and friend to those who are wanting to do it differently. I believe opportunities to start clinics and holistic treatment centers are coming – and I want to be a person who supports these endeavors and champions those who are brave enough to step out and work differently.

There really is a better way to help people. The world is full of suffering – but I know there is a way to ease that suffering. And for this reason, I will not quit. I will show up despite my fear and insecurity as an example of what is possible.

Most of my ideas about mental health and addiction treatment run contrary to conventional wisdom. While I’ve struggled to find my voice, I refuse to let my struggle keep me from standing in my truth and helping others.

I know this blog will not be for everyone and I’m ok with that. My goal is never to have anyone believe how I believe but to encourage us all to ask tough questions and think critically about these issues.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic! Connect with me by leaving a comment below.

Peace and love,

Emily

8 Comments

  1. Laura King
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    I know this will be helpful to so many people!

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    • Emily Herrick
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      Thanks, Laura!

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  2. Darci
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    Vulnerability = brave AND scared most of the time! I love your heart and I love hearing/reading your voice out in the world. It is incredibly important for people to see that there is hope and healing. It is also crucial that they know that the most commonly tread path is not necessarily the best one for everyone! Thank you for bringing light to a system so hard to look at due to the presently discouraging state it is in.

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    • Emily Herrick
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      Darci! Thank you for this. And for being the light you are. We are on the “road less traveled” for sure. So grateful for YOU!

      Reply
  3. Alison Joy
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    Thank you for as sharing your story, your experience, your wisdom. Thanks for helping push the way we think about mental health forward.

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    • Emily Herrick
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      Thanks for taking the time to read!

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  4. Jenna
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    Everything you said makes so much sense. It’s just so true.

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    • Emily Herrick
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      Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. 🙂

      Reply

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