#TheVulnerabilityChallenge Day 22
We can all be courageous with a good enough reason
Did you see me getting vulnerable on BBC Spotlight? If you missed it, here I am with Stacie, Fi and Gemma from our speaking club, sharing our mental health stories about suicide ideation and attempts with BBC Health Correspondent, Jenny Walrond.
When Jenny asked if I would contribute to a story she was covering about rising suicide rates in Cornwall, there was no question – of course I would do it! A pretty confident response, huh? The truth is, my heart started racing and I felt sick at the thought of it. In all honestly, there was a part of me that wanted to turn this amazing opportunity down – the same part of me that freaked out and chose to delay my interview on CHBN Radio a while back. But I couldn’t delay this, could I? I mean… it’s not every day the BBC come knocking on your door, is it? And more importantly, I have a story that needs to be told.
The source of my public speaking nerves
I process things very deeply and that takes time. The only way I can describe this is it’s like my mouth is further from my brain than for some other people. It’s as if I speak from my heart and not my head. And that really feels very true for me. The fact that I reflect deeply is actually something I love about myself. The challenge I have is that my words sometimes get jumbled or even lost in their travels and I can be slower to respond. So when I’ve been offered media opportunities before, I’ve felt pretty nervous about putting this on show.
What if I start rambling and people judge me?
What if I say the wrong thing and I don’t come across how I want to?
Yeah… I know you know these thoughts too. We all know these thoughts here.
A reason for courageous action
I’m grateful that whatever fears and anxieties crop up for me, my compassionate courage is always stronger. Because stories like mine need to be told. Our mental health stories must be voiced and shared and brought to light for two very important reasons:
Other people need to know they’re not alone in feeling this way.
It can be so isolating and shameful to experience mental health challenges. Many people don’t talk about it and when we don’t hear about it, it can be easy to think ‘I’m the only person in the world going through this. I’m different. Other people don’t have this problem. Maybe I’m just hopelessly flawed?’ And then we might hide all the more, moving away from the support and understanding that we need.
But, when we discover we’re not alone, we feel that it’s okay for us to share our stories too. We find connection and understanding in others. We feel like we belong. The courage to speak our truth has a ripple effect, as one person after another begins to open up, growing acceptance and hope, touching the lives of more and more people.
The people around us can only support us and make changes if they learn about our experiences.
People who have never experienced those extreme feelings of anxiety and worthlessness with that intense wish not to be seen cannot understand our feelings and behaviours unless they hear from us. They may find it hard to grasp why we behave in certain ways and struggle with everyday situations – things that come easy to them.
It’s all too easy for other people to unintentionally make life even more difficult for us. They might unconsciously make and act on assumptions and judgements about us. Or it might be through implementing unnecessary practises that take us so far out of our comfort zones completely unsupported at school, work and even at home. More education is desperately needed so people know how to better support us, and how to change the way they’re choosing to do things so that we can be included.
These are the reasons I choose to speak out. My desire for connection and change drives me to raise awareness and that’s far stronger than any part of me that wants to stay small and unseen.
When I am in the spotlight, my story is no longer about me.
My story is about all of us.
Hayley shares her personal stories of feeling shy, socially anxious, ‘not good enough’ and fearfully avoiding the good things in life. Growing her confidence through coaching, gradually stretching her comfort zone and connecting with others, she now uses everything she has learned to help other people grow their confidence in her role as a coach. Hayley is passionate about connecting people with similar stories and creating safe, supportive spaces to make friends and try new things. Hayley dreams of a time when all of the strengths, skills and goodness in ‘quiet’ is recognised and appreciated as readily as being bold, gregarious, and comfortable in the spotlight is right now.