I suffer from extreme Imposter Syndrome. It’s this idea in your head that you have no idea what the fuck that you’re talking about, even as you’re telling people that you know what you’re talking about.
The official definition is as follows:
Impostor syndrome (IS) refers to an internal experience of believing that you are not as competent as others perceive you to be. While this definition is usually narrowly applied to intelligence and achievement, it has links to perfectionism and the social context.Google
The thing is that I’ve spent so long being told that I have ADHD, or Bipolar Disorder, or that I don’t try enough, that I’ve spent a great deal of time believing it.
Now that I am gearing up to do the first ever event for Loud Mouth Brown Girl, I am starting to ask myself, “what do you have to offer these people?” “What’s the point of this event?” “Who the fuck makes you think that you have the right to lecture people on mental health?”
I have a lot of answers to those questions, but to the last one in particular. I can’t lecture anyone on mental health. I’m not certified and I haven’t gone to school to learn about the various forms of mental health issues that people deal with.
However, I do have my personal experience, and I’ve decided that that personal experience is valid.
I have had my current Twitter account since 2013, and in that time I’ve spent a great deal of my energies talking to others about mental health. In my head I have been compiling at least ten books worth of information that has allowed me to heal to a certain point.
When we talk about “higher education,” we tend to value going to a prestigious school over learning from others while smoking a joint in a parking lot at three am, but that doesn’t mean that the lessons you learn in that parking lot are any less valid than if you get them from the classroom.
You have to be willing to actually look at the various situations you’ve been put into, either by force or by choice, and dissect what you can learn from them, as those lessons pertain to your life, and that’s not something that I am very good at.
Sometimes I get very overwhelmed with the information that I take in, certain videos, or conversations are incredibly triggering for me.
Someone told me recently that they wanted to start a blog, but they were nervous because they were afraid no one would care, or that they’d have nothing to say.
Blogging for me is essential to my overall mental health. I put a lot of work and energy into this blog not just because I want it to be famous and well known, but because we take care of the things that bring us joy, right?
I put four hard years into this blog, and I didn’t think about the audience, I didn’t think about how people would react, I was just doing what I knew would make me feel better.
If you want to put your life out there for the world to do it but you’re afraid of what people will say, I can honestly promise that those who criticize you for living your experience loudly, then their voices aren’t really that important.
I find the ones that judge you the harshest, are people who themselves feel as if they don’t have anything to offer, if they can tear you down, then they can feel better about themselves, which renders their opinions invalid.
I am far more aware of what I say on this blog now then when I started, I am far more conscious of how I present myself to the world, and yes there are days when I look at this website in absolute disgust and I want to delete it all, because it carries everything. The good, the bad, and the ugly.
I’m not thinking about the effect this blog is going to have on people in ten years, I am thinking about the next moment, the next month.
It costs a lot of money to run a blog – not just the cost of hosting the thing, but also the effort and time it takes to make it look appealing. The hours it takes to create the content is seemingly endless, but the reward comes from people who read what I have to say and respond with “I’ve been there.”
It helps knowing that other people are going through the same shit storm you are, but you won’t know that they’re going through it too unless you reach out and ask for help, and to a really huge extent, that is what this blog is about.
One day I’d love to have thousands of readers, but for right now, I am focusing on building a small community of people who understand, and are able and willing to support each other, because I need support and frankly the “official channels” don’t give a damn.
Across the United States of America and Canada, even in Europe, people are begging for help with their mental health issues, and there just isn’t enough funding or support to go around.
Part of that is because those who work in the mental health industry are burning out at an alarming rate. This is again, because there isn’t enough funding, which means there isn’t enough support, which means that there are too few people who understand things like deep complex trauma and PTSD.
So the only logical solution is that those of us who deal with mental health issues have to help each other.
We have to be willing to talk about how we get treated when we go to the doctor and talk to them about our symptoms. We have to talk about what we’ve been through, not just so that we’re not alone, but so that we can co-create ways to change the stigma behind mental health, trauma, and PTSD.
That’s the focus of this website now and I am really excited about that, but I am also super nervous. What if I fail? Well the answer to that is that the only way that I will fail is if I refuse to try and I have never been the kind of person who refused to try.
Yes, I will probably always have that voice inside my head telling me not to do something because it’s afraid of the result, or the assumed result, but that’s not going to stop me from trying to have real conversations about mental health.
I have Doctors, Lawyers, Teachers, Philosophers, Artists, and people from across the spectrum of humanity that follow me, that share their pain with me, that share my pain, and I am trying to do the best thing I can possibly do for them and myself, by sharing my thoughts with the world.
It’s a huge responsibility, but it’s also a massive gift. If you think you have the gift, to live openly, authentically, and without shame, please don’t take that gift away from the world out of fear. Please try, just one day at a time, to be the person you were born to be.
The world needs you to inspire it now more than ever. If you have to stumble around in the dark until you find what works for you, then that’s what you have to do. I’ve done it that way for years, and so far it’s worked good for me. I have some kind of a plan somewhere in the back of my head, but the plan is only a guideline, it’s not mandatory, and it will change as I need it to, because I’m the one in charge of me.
You’re the one in charge of you. Don’t let anyone shame you into remaining silent, because it’s a lot harder to remain silent than to open your mouth and scream as loud as possible. Trust me, I’m living proof.
Sending all my love,
Devon J Hall