The right kind of advocate

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I took this picture on the day I went back to work after nine months’ absence.

 

“Do you feel like you’re not the right kind of advocate for mental health if you don’t reveal everything?”

 

Could we just not?

 

Sigh, welcome to the 355677765th instalment of ‘Shit depressed people have to hear.’ Also I guess this could be called ‘Shit depressed people say.’ Every once in a while on social media I run into conversations where people are weighing whether or not there is a ‘right kind’ of mental health advocate.

 

Many people have decided to come forward about their experiences in order to help other people, either in the same situation or to understand mental illness. This is absolutely fantastic. But with any kind of exposure comes the fact that it’s not distributed evenly. Some people might feel that why do they bother since ‘nobody’ is reading their stuff anyway.

 

And this is where the ‘right kind advocate’ comes in. Someone decides that the reason why some people get read more than others is because they are more open about their experiences and the fact that they choose to be more private is working against them.

 

Is it just me or does this sound twisted to anyone else?

 

I’m very open about my experiences but that’s my choice. It doesn’t make me a better person, just a person who has made a choice. This is also the result of me being at that stage of my recovery where I feel comfortable enough to do that. Nobody is forcing me to do it. I definitely don’t get paid for doing it. I just feel like I have nothing to lose by telling about my experiences, simple as that.  But that is just me.

 

Nobody has the right to your private matters. You don’t owe an explanation to anyone. You haven’t done anything wrong. You’ve been poorly and want to help others. That’s the bottom line. If you don’t want to talk about something, that’s absolutely fair. I have drawn the line to certain things because I have been fragile and haven’t wanted to upset myself. However, this is my line to draw. Nobody has said that since I’ve been open in the past means that I have to be open about everything. Nobody has punished me for doing what’s right by me.

 

I really hate it when things can’t stay nice. Even a matter as positive as being a mental health advocate. At some point we have the egos and the comparisons and the jealousy to step in. Could we focus on what’s important? We’re trying to make a societal change here.

 

Once the conversation turns to whether or not an advocate needs to be attractive, I think we have strayed far enough from god’s light.

 

I hate it when nice things get ruined by complicating them and wasting time talking about something that isn’t relevant. Some people get a wider audience than others. I’m sure a lot of factors play a part in that. Shouldn’t we just be happy that at least one gets a wide following? That means that the heart of the matter, raising awareness on mental health, is being discussed.

 

I can’t handle it when things start cracking within the community, it pisses me off. That’s not what we’re here to do, is it?

 

I know that my way of discussing things isn’t for everyone. That’s OK. Not everyone likes strawberries either. If a reader finds a writer who speaks to them in a way that makes them want to listen, I’ll be just as happy if it’s me or anyone else. As long as they’re listening.

 

Even though I write about myself I feel that at the end of the day it has surprisingly little to do with me. I just want to help other people and I’m acting as a vessel to do that. I have met some brilliant people while being involved in advocacy work, who have provided peer support and some much-needed laughs.

 

This is what it’s about. Not about who is the right kind of advocate. Every advocate is the right kind of advocate.

3 comments

  1. Amen to this!! I think trying to push people to share more than they are comfortable with is dangerous. Everyone needs to go at their own pace. Like everything in life, there are different ways of going about things, and people need to find the one that fits them.

    As you said, what matters is that people are talking about it, whether it’s as simple as admitting they have a mental health illness, or delving into the details. It all raises awareness.

    Ruth | http://www.ruthinrevolt.com

    Liked by 1 person

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