My name is Nikki Opara, I am a 23-year-old recent college graduate and mental health/lifestyle blogger. The topic of mental health is something I am very passionate about due to my own personal experiences. I think I was fifteen years old when I came to the slight conclusion that I must be crazy. As I observed the people around me it felt as if everyone was living perfect lives and they were in control of all their issues and I was the only one in the world with low self-esteem, depressive thoughts, and this constant willingness to want to disappear.

This mindset and outlook followed me for about 5 to 6 years, as I carried this false perception of the people around me. Obviously as I grew older, I gained the knowledge that you can not judge others because you never know what they are going through, but even as I found myself in the next stage of university, I couldn’t help but think I was the only one with this constant feeling that I was drowning in a deep black hole.

It wasn’t until I started blogging when I was 20 years old and opening my eyes to a community of writers who were opening up about their journey and struggles that I thought to myself… “ I’m not the only one?!” This basically saved my life…

Here are 5 crucial reasons YOU should share your story:

1) You build a community

When people feel like they can relate and connect with each other it definitely builds a community, especially in the midst of loss and/or confusion. We were not created to live this life alone. The mountains and valleys that we experience in life can be a lot more bearable when we have people around us who are overcoming similar obstacles. By sharing YOUR story you give people permission to live life with you.

2) You find your purpose in life without even trying

It wasn’t until I was open about my experiences that I realized what my passion is in life and my purpose. By sharing your story you open yourself up by not only having a voice in this world but finding your passion and purpose. When I started opening up about my experiences with depression and suicidal ideation, I naturally started becoming drawn to mental health advocacy, and my current job is working with at-risk teen girls who struggle with mental illness as well. Sharing your story gives you an inner drive that you never knew you had.

3) Your story gives someone HOPE

When struggling with a mental illness it is really easy to feel like you are the only one going through it. By sharing your story you are basically telling someone “hey, if I can do it.. you can do it”. I wrote a poem once that basically described the struggle I was having in regards to feeling misunderstood by my family as I was dealing with my depression. I remember getting a comment by a reader and she said it was exactly how she had been feeling and she was surprised that she wasn’t the only one. Tell your story; it may just be the little hope someone needs to keep fighting.

4) Sharing your story makes recovery a “REALITY”

So you have been doing well for the past 3 months? Share that with someone who may be feeling like they will never get better. People need to know that recovery is possible and that it is attainable. Suicide rates have been on a rise lately, unfortunately, because people can not see the light at the end of the tunnel. When you share your story you remind others that, yes, recovery is going to be a lot of work but it is real and possible.

5) You help break the stigma with your story

You don’t have to share all the vulnerable details of your life. But what you can do, is speak up about those experiences in the hospital when you were pushed aside because you didn’t “look depressed or anxious”.  You can share about how you kept fighting to attain the best medication that would help stabilize your bipolar disorder. Those experiences need to be told. It is through real-life testimonies that can help break the stigma surrounding mental illness, as well as be able to hear first hand the type of help needed to better assist people with mental illness.

About the Author

Nikki Opara is a 23-year-old recent college graduate and mental health/lifestyle blogger. You can connect with her on her blog, Her Daring Thoughts, Instagram, or Twitter