4 Reasons to Share Your Personal Journey with Others

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If you’ve struggled with alcoholism or severe depression with thoughts of suicide, you know too well the feelings of being utterly alone. Even if you have family and friends who love you, spiraling into the depths of depression, alcohol abuse, and suicide make you blind to your own value. It can leave you feeling as though your loved ones would be better off without you around.

Having gone through such a journey and emerging a stronger, more resilient person allows for an opportunity to share that journey. Sharing your story can be one of the most meaningful things you can do, not only for your own recovery, but for the benefits of others.

Here’s why.

1. Sharing your journey helps you connect with your community. The setup of an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting has been dramatized on television so many times: One individual is selected to stand up and speak, beginning their statement with, “Hi, my name is Joe, and I’m an alcoholic.” It’s very recognizable. The intent behind this is the first step in the 12-step program to recovery, which is admitting that you have an addiction and that you are powerless over it.

This serves another critical purpose– introducing yourself to the community that will support you throughout your recovery. Welcomes are often warm and encouraging for those who may be attending their first meeting or are just beginning their journey to recovery. People sharing their personal journeys can connect attendees with each other, and raise awareness that they are truly not alone.

This mutual sharing of stories cultivates an atmosphere of trust and acceptance. It’s this effect that often makes support meetings such as those of AA feel like a safe haven for those suffering with addiction or mental illness.

2. Your personal story enables you to support and inspire others. For those who have been through the process and achieved successful recovery, the story that follows often inspires others who are just beginning their own journeys. For an alcoholic who has suffered from severe depression and even thoughts of suicide, hearing stories from those who have walked this difficult path and emerged on the other side is often the inspiration they need to keep going.

You can share your story beyond a setting like an AA meeting. Many recovering alcoholics, people who have suffered from mental illness or suicidal feelings, and family members of those recovering have started blogs, some of which have grown to become virtual recovery communities. Whether in an online setting or an in-person meeting or support group, peers in recovery take comfort in knowing that they will be met with understanding and compassion.

3. Sharing your personal story could save lives. Sharing your story through a blog or a stand-alone article can be as therapeutic for you as it is inspiring for others going through similar circumstances. An alcoholic or someone contemplating suicide may read your story and be inspired to seek help, realizing that recovery is truly possible.

When someone is near rock-bottom, or in the deepest depression, they may be unlikely to venture out to seek help or even pick up the phone. But because the Internet enables anyone to connect with and share information with anyone around the world, it’s now possible to seek out options for help anonymously.

A powerful story of recovery can be a lifeline for someone about to make a terrible and drastic choice. Your words could be the single influencing factor that makes them change their mind – even for one day. That could be the day during which that person decides to reach out for help. They may decide to call a helpline for immediate assistance, or admit to a loved one that they are struggling with alcoholism, depression, or thoughts of suicide. The power to save lives through sharing your personal journey is immeasurable.

4. Improving your feelings of self-worth and recognizing your value. There are many benefits to your peers in recovery groups, or others with similar struggles, but sharing your personal journey benefits the storyteller as well. The recovery journey is often a long road as well as a pivotal period. Sharing this with others gives meaning to what you’ve gone through.

Telling your recovery story can also help you find your voice. As Jay Boll, Editor in Chief at Resources to Recover explains, “Writing about a difficult period in your life can help you organize the chaos of past events in the structure of a story with a beginning, middle and end, and a moral you can learn from. It allows you to think about the events of your life and express them in a way that makes sense to other people and ultimately to you yourself.”

Above all, your story is important. Being able to inspire other people who are experiencing similar struggles, and encourage them to take action to change their lives is a gift. That’s why friends and loved ones are often unable to reach their loved ones who are struggling with addiction or depression – the mutual experience is the key to inspire someone to change course.

It may seem uncomfortable at first to share your personal recovery journey. However, once you realize the power that your experience has given you to transform lives, it’s a gift that you cannot leave un-utilized.

Jennifer Woodson enjoys serving the public as a writer for PublicHealthCorps.org. The site is dedicated to putting the public back into public health by serving as a hub of reputable and useful public information on health topics.

Image via Pixabay by rudamese

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