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Do I Have Permission to Tell My Mental Health Story?

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Have you ever felt invalidated when you’ve shared your truth, your story? I completely understand how painful that experience can be, and how invalidating it can be, because I’ve been there. I know it all too well! But it is good to get it out somehow, because keeping it in can be harmful to your mental health.

Think of it as garbage. Just be wary, because taking out the trash can have consequences! It can blow into your neighbor’s yard, or all over the street, or the wind can pick it up, take it across town, and make everything there messy and smelly. You can’t tie it up with a pretty bow either! Just remember, it’s still trash! But here’s something curious — you know the expression “one person’s trash is another’s treasure”? Well, when I share my trash with my therapist, she looks on it as treasure, an opportunity to learn something new, because it reveals to her things that are hidden in my mind that I didn’t see. So we go “exploring.”

I wrote this poem, thinking it was some kind of revelation. But no, I realized it wasn’t. Because of a situation that came up for me a few days afterwards, I felt very quickly that I had invalidated my own thoughts, my own poem. But do I even have the authority to answer that question, to actually give anyone “permission to talk”? I don’t know. What do you think?

If you ever feel like you don’t deserve to talk, to share your thoughts, your story, your truth, I hope that this poem provides the answer you’re looking for. What will be your answer in this moment right here, right now?

Do I Have Permission to Talk?

There have been times in my life when it’s ok to just talk
Then there are other times when, well, I can’t
Whether it be that it’s not my turn
Someone else drives the conversation
There’s too many people talking at once
Or maybe I’m just outside of the conversation
It always feels rather uncertain, and I’m not sure what to do

One very difficult and challenging time
Is when I desperately wanted to ‘share my story’
You know, the one that most people feel is TMI?
That’s where it’s so easy to feel like I’ve hit a road block
This is when doubts kick in, and it’s easy to feel unworthy
And I ask myself ‘Is this a good thing or a bad thing?
Why would anyone want to hear about the crap in my life?

I felt such shame, embarrassment, and fear
Of sharing my story with anyone!
I would be crushed if any of this got out!
What will people think of me?
Will they put me down, hate me, or just avoid me?
Everyone will think that I’m a complete loser!
And ostracize me from their midst

This is exactly where I was more than 2 years ago
I remembered childhood trauma which shook my world
I talked to my adult children about it
Not telling them the details
But just that I had remembered it
But it was painful when my daughter said to me
“Fake it till you make it” and “Just let it go and move on”

I was so devastated by her invalidating words
And it hurt so very much that I was speechless
Why would she say that to me?
So when I went to my new group therapy meeting
I asked the question burning in my mind
“Should I talk about it – or stay silent?”
The response I got was totally unexpected!!

One guy who was further along in his recovery said
“It’s like putting out the garbage”
In essence, what’s inside my head can fester, rot, and stink
And the only way to get rid of that garbage is to get it out
By talking, writing, music, art, or other forms of creative expression
Or whatever creative thing comes from your heart
This concept was a revelation for me!

I don’t have to ‘clam up’ about it!
I have talked about it with my therapist, my husband, and friends
I have journaled a lot about it, written poetry about it
And I have found my voice through that writing as well
Now that I have mustered up the courage to start publishing
I have discovered that it is not only cathartic for me
It is also supporting others, and helping them face their demons too!
Will wonders never cease?

So when you look in the mirror of your own life
And think “Do I have permission to talk?”
The answer is an emphatic “YES!!!”
And no, that doesn’t mean you have to publish it
You can talk to select people that you trust
You can write about it, then burn it or delete it from your computer
Or file it away and look back at it months or years down the road
You can create something beautiful and destroy it
Or keep it and cherish it forever
It’s truly your choice!
And I’ve realized that it’s a huge step towards healing!

If you too are on a trauma healing journey, visit The Tie Dye poet’s website to see more of her work, and check out her book here.

Originally published: December 19, 2020
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