Redefining Strength

Redefining Strength

How do you define strength? Do you define it as “sucking it up” and “pushing through”? I define strength as allowing yourself to be vulnerable with another person, even though you may not know how the person will respond, and sharing your story with him or her.

I believe in moments of vulnerability.
I believe in uniting others by providing space for that vulnerability to linger.
I believe in the deeper level of understanding that is the outcome of that vulnerability.

Two Mental Health Resources to Check Out

Mental health is a topic that isn’t going to go away.

The needs for mental health services will not disappear; nor will they be silenced by the stigma that is prevalent in our society.

I was to bring attention to two resources that encourage the sharing of personal stories about mental illness and mental health. The two resources are OK2Talk (ok2talk.org) in California, USA and Walk In My Shoes (walkinmyshoes.ie) in Ireland.

Ok2Talk is a resource for pre-teens, adolescents, and transitional age youth (18-26 years old) that provides the opportunity for them to share their stories and experiences of mental illness with the world. Reading the stories, you will notice the strength, resiliency, and courage of these young people. This site is a wonderful example of the implementation of the Recovery Model that I have discussed in previous blog entries. Hope is threaded throughout all, if not most, of the stories shared. The knowledge that one is not alone in the battle they are facing with symptoms of mental illness, or even the daily struggles of a young/emerging adult, creates a sense of community among the writers. OK2Talk also provides access to immediate counseling services through their hotline 1-800-273-TALK and providing a link to MentalHealth.gov. MentalHealth.gov provides a larger database of hotlines and resources for those seeking help.

The agencies that are supporting this amazing resource of recovery for our current and younger generations are The National Association of Broadcasters (NBA), Mental Health America, The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), California’s Mental Health Movement: Each Mind Matters, Bring Change to Mind (bringchange2mind.org), Active Minds, and The Entertainment Industries Council, Inc.

The second resource is Walk In My Shoes in Ireland. Even though this resource isn’t based here in the United States, the site reminds us that the prevalence of mental illness is an international issue. Similar to OK2Talk, people can submit their personal stories of living with and managing a mental illness. This resource includes stories that are from youth and adults. In addition to sharing stories and fostering a sense of community, as does OK2Talk, Walk in My Shoes also raises awareness about hearing and learning about others’ experiences with mental illness by encouraging people to walk in shoes that are not necessary theirs; hence, walking in someone’s shoes.

Regardless of age, socioeconomic status, sex, gender, or race, mental health issues and one’s path towards recovery is a universal experience. Begin and continue the discussion about mental health and mental illness.

My wish and hope for you.

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We all have a story. We all have a truth inside of us that is waiting to be told… one day.

My wish for you is that you share your story with the word when you are ready. When you are ready to share your story, whether you tell only yourself in a journal, a friend, a family member, or the world as I have with my blog, I hope you experience a sense of relief, a sense of triumph, and a release of pain.

I hope one day you will be reminded, in one way or another, the experience you have been through has shaped you into the strong, internally beautiful, and courageous person you are today.

You are never alone in your journey. You are never forgotten in the midst of your struggles.

Share your story. There is someone, out there in this small world, that needs to hear your story just as much as you may need to tell it.

Strength: What is it exactly?

I’m not talking about strength in the physical sense, like when someone lifts 300 pounds. The kind of strength I’m questioning is internal strength.

What is internal strength? How are we able to identify it? Does an individual, or group of people, gain this type of strength through experiences? And if so, what kinds of events or situations does a person have to experience in order to have achieved internal strength? Or can this type of strength be purchased through material goods?

I don’t have the answers to these questions. But what I do know is that, I see internal strength everywhere. Internal strength can exist in anyone regardless of age, sex, race, or class. I see an immense amount of internal strength when a person admits their mistakes and when someone has survived long-term struggles like oppression, trauma, pain, and heartache. Internal strength, in my opinion, is when a person asks for help and guidance. I identify internal strength when I see a person take a leap of faith into the unknown, such as when the leap is motivated by a desire to follow their dreams or to listen to their heart.

 I witness internal strength the most is when I look into my mother’s eyes.

Internal strength is a mysterious thing. This intangible entity is typically not self-prescribed. The people who truly have this internal strength, 9 times out of 10, wouldn’t say they do. Internal strength is a characteristic that others use to describe another.

I can say my mother has this internal strength; but she wouldn’t agree.

My answers to the questions I asked in the beginning of this entry are simple:
                    Internal strength is when an individual overcomes any and all obstacles without losing sight of who they are and without losing hope for what the future holds. I am able to identify internal strength when I see it because I was somehow socialized to believe that this internal strength does not exist in everyone; it comes from a special combination of events, circumstances, and amount of growth. Internal strength, in my opinion, cannot be bought.

Resiliency is the demonstration of internal strength.