It all started with a Tweet…
World Mental Health Day was observed last week (October 11).
Even though I had a consistent presence on Twitter, it had been a very long time since I shared something personal- if at all that I can remember.
Well, on that day I felt the need to get personal.
In 2004, my father died by suicide. He was only 53— Amber Stephens (@amberjamie) October 10, 2018
He suffered from depression, PTSD, among other conditions & never sought treatment
His father, my grandfather, also died by suicide
Both were U.S. military veterans.
Thank you @ladygaga for helping to #endthestigma#WMHD2018 pic.twitter.com/ECR8ZgNW3W
My first thoughts after I posted this about my father and his father (my grandfather) were: Oh my god, why did I do that? Wait did I do that? The hashtag did it, I swear!
So many other questions came to mind.
Is this my story to tell?
Am I spilling my trauma all over the place?
(As MacKenzie Phillips so eloquently put at last month’s SheRecovers LA conference)
Was I merely trying to get the attention of our goddess queen & savior Lady Gaga?
Is this a cry for attention or do I really want people to connect with the message?
(I really do feel that people who interacted with it were touched by it)
Then I realized what it was.
I felt a calling to engage in storytelling in the online space again.
So, I decided it was time to get myself out there again on the internets.
If I did, I would have to talk about my sobriety.
More questions came to mind….(of course because I am a Virgo and we are overanalyzers).
Am I ready for this?
What will my mom think? What would my other family members think? What will my (drinker) friends think? What will my current employer think? What will prospective employers think in the future?
What about stalkers/harassers?
That last one is what led me to retreat from writing publicly about 5 years ago.
I had trouble eating for a few days as both worries and creative ideas swirled in my mind.
I felt anxious and excited, but yet still felt concerned if I was doing “the right thing.”
Ultimately telling my stories and the stories of others far outweighs any perceived personal or professional repercussions (keyword: perceived).
I want to tell as much of my personal truth as I am willing to share, which I believe will lead me to where I need to be.
I know it will, as telling stories from the margins led me to places I never imagined possible as a journalist.
So join me as I wade through the waters of personal truths and weave together different narratives to create stories of empathy, love and understanding…as I have been doing one way or another nearly my entire life.
I am now 9.5 months sober, by the way.