Why being honest about my deepest flaws was one of best decisions I've ever made
You might know that recently I decided to open up about my eating disorder and mental health history by publishing a series of posts about my recovery. I was petrified of making myself so vulnerable, feeling sick and shaking as I wrote and my heart beat thumped in my temples as I hit publish each time.
What I was actually so terrified of was judgment. Of confirmation that the thing that has made me weakest of all does in fact, weaken and define me when I have fought so hard against that.
I worried that showing people what was truly going on in my head would open me up to ridicule.
The response was the polar opposite.
I’m writing this post to convey one message: If you are suffering, I implore you to share it. The more you share it, the better. Being honest about what we see as our weaknesses or failures is in fact, the best thing we can do.
I’ve been on the receiving end of limitless compassion since I decided to publish my story. I’ve received messages from all over the world from people who have found the courage to share their own life battles with me, which is such a beautiful thing.
I wrote the series to help others to see that they’re not alone. I had no idea how freeing it would be though for me, and for the first time I can see that period of my life as a strength and an asset.
I’m vulnerable, and I have extreme weaknesses. But I have confidence in that now. Those weaknesses have made me who I am, and I’m fiercely proud of my reflection.
This doesn’t mean that I’m happy about what I went through. I will always be sad to have been robbed of so many years in the grip of an illness that ate me alive.
We don’t have to be happy about what has happened to us, but we can learn to be better humans because of it.
Perhaps this is all part of getting older. Maybe that beautiful feeling of liberation is something that can only come once we endure these tests life throws at us. All I know is that I have spent a huge proportion of my life unduly concerned by what others must think of me, and what they would think if I was open-heartedly honest.
Coming out and talking about mental health stuff (which doesn’t get talked about enough – even now) is one of the best decisions I have ever made and it has taught me so much about what people really do think. And the best bit? It was nothing whatsoever like I’d imagined it might be.
If we can find the courage from somewhere to fight through the terror, the nerves and all the worry about the unknown and let people in to what is happening to us, we can not only help others but we can heal ourselves as well. To give others the inspiration to do the same thing is a privilege. This is how change – real, fundamental change – happens.
Our issues and experiences are not weaknesses. They are all part of the human experience. And no-one, even if we think we are, is ever alone.
It’s all too easy to become overwhelmed by how tiny we feel in this huge, complicated world. I often ask myself how on earth it could be possible that one person – any of us – could create any sort of lasting change.
But it’s dawned on me that it’s not just me who cares about changing attitudes towards this stuff that so many of us endure in different guises.
In deciding to write about this stuff, many others have written to me to say they’re going to do the same. Many have said that my words have helped in some way. That’s one of the biggest accomplishments of my life.
This is how change happens. It’s a domino effect. It’s a movement.
I’ve been guilty of trying so hard to be there to support the people I love (and I don’t always get it right) that I’d completely overlooked how I could help others, and myself, by letting people in.
So here’s the message of this post.
Be bold. Be brave. Wear your scars, no matter how deep or raw they are, with pride. Be brutally honest. Be vulnerable, and be proud of all that you are. The chances are, it won’t be as scary or awful as you think. It may just be the best thing you ever do.
Much love. Xxxx