The Agony of an Untold Story

I started a blog about recovery when I was well. Then I got sick.

I had thought the worst was behind me, all the while forgetting a truth I’d been told many times before — recovery is nonlinear. 

After nearly a two year hiatus, I’ve returned. It took me that long to get back here not because I was “doing badly” but because I was once again in the high seas of recovery. Recovery is excruciating, grotesque, and beautiful, all at the same time. It’s waking up from a nightmare, that sense of terror and relief when you look down and realize that you’re still alive.

Creating this blog was a big step for me. After a childhood of constant castigation and never feeling good enough, I find it difficult to share my words, even though my lifelong ambition has always been to be a writer. I long for (and need) my voice to be heard, but I find the process itself agonizing. I always assume that sharing my words will end in disaster. And, in a way, it did.

I started posting in the midst of a mixed episode (those posts are now gone), sharing intensely personal details about my illness and hospitalization. In that moment of instability, I didn’t see what was and was not safe to share online. I had what Brene Brown would call a “vulnerability hangover.” When I left the hospital, I saw what I had shared and experienced an immense spiral of shame. So I took the posts down, then I took down the entire blog.

There’s a lot of talk about mental health these days. There’s less talk, however, about serious mental illness — what that looks like, what that feels like, the daily agonies and occasional ecstasies that it can entail for the person living with it and those closest to them. For the most part, mental illness isn’t pretty. It’s messy. It’s ineloquent. It can be incredibly painful to look straight in the face.

Although I have learned that I need to recognize and respect my own boundaries when it comes to divulging details of my life, I have also learned that it’s important to share my experiences when I feel safe to do so. Because, as Maya Angelou said, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” So here’s mine.

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