Stories are powerful. It wasn’t until I began in the field of clinical psychotherapy that I recognized just how important stories are to the structuring of our lives. We gain meaning and strength from our stories. We also provide others with empowerment and courage through our pain. A story can be so powerful that it changes not only the heart and mind of a person struggling with mental health challenges, but also their life. Personal Stories Week has become a yearly tradition for me on PsychCentral. I have the opportunity to contact various inspirational speakers, social media tigers, parents, families, caregivers, blog talk radio hosts, writers, authors, twitter followers, other professionals, etc. to invite them to write an article and share their experience within the mental health and social welfare system with us. It’s such a great time connect with writers and readers. It’s an entire week filled with personal stories of triumph, motivation, courage, and knowledge. I invite you to check in everyday and to share the many stories you will see this week.
Last year I was honored by the multiple writers from all over the world that wrote for Personal Stories Week. A mother of a daughter with schizophrenia shared her story, another mother whose son committed suicide unexpectedly encouraged other parents, and a doctor who invented a social media platform and website to help clients cope with anxiety shared his motivation.
For a short listing of some of the stories from the past two years of Personal Stories Week, see below:
This year we will be talking to an advocate of child abuse who is founder of Beakidshero.com, and E Ramsey, a father of two sons who struggled with mental and behavioral problems. He shares his experience of his son’s unexpected suicide. You will also have a few articles from me to stimulate your thinking on two important topics on mental health which includes burnout and Compassion Fatigue.
Personal stories provide us with an inside look at the challenging reality of trying to keep our families safe, knowledgeable, and cared for. Sometimes the only way we learn to cope with our challenging lives is by knowing that we are not alone. There are 5 reasons why you will love Personal Stories Week:
- You get to connect with others in your shoes: Empathy is a very important trait to have. Without empathy, you cannot care for others or “walk in their shoes.” Personal Stories Week encourages all of us to think “what if that were me?”
- You reflect and engage in introspection as you read: The most significant articles, magazines, or books that I have read often have a way of encouraging me to think, reflect, meditate on a thought or feeling, or engage in introspection (evaluating my innermost feelings). If a book, article, magazine, or website doesn’t stir some kind of thinking on the subject, it isn’t worth your time.
- It is free “therapy:” I believe in giving back to my field. My way of giving back is by writing on PsychCentral, doing book reviews for professional authors, presentations for free, or other really cool things like this. Another great way to give back is to provide “free therapy.” A website or blog like this is basically “free therapy.” Ideas are being shared, feelings are being evaluated, and you are beginning to think not only about your own feelings but others. I’ve had many people email me about articles written here and they will say “wow, I didn’t know I felt this way until I read this.”
- You experience a “community” feeling: It’s good to know that we are not alone. The moment we feel alone is the moment when we lose hope, perspective, and motivation. “Community” has a powerful way of stirring our collective energies in a positive way to motivate us toward the future. This is why support groups or group therapy experiences are sometimes powerful. I truly enjoy giving presentations about mental health at local libraries or social gatherings of an intimate group of people. It’s powerful.
- You have the opportunity of participating next year: I am always looking to support families, professionals, and even students of psychology who believe they have something to share about a personal experience with mental health. One of the greatest learning experiences that I had starting out in the field some years ago was personal experience. Personal experience in my job, with a client, with a family member, with a friend, with a spouse, etc. catapulted me into a growth and life changing experience. Because of this, I seek to provide others with this same learning experience.
Stay tuned for Personal Stories Week starting August 17th through August 21st on blogs.psychcentral.com/caregivers!
If you would like to participate in Personal Stories Week next year as a professional, parent, adult child, or caregiver, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Personal Stories Week 2016.”
All the best