“When I was 14 years old, I had an experience that dramatically influenced the direction of my future. Growing up, others described me as a laid back, fun character. But after an incident with my brother, I became abusive and violent over-night. Everyone, even those closest to me, labelled me as an “aggressive teenager”. Nobody realised that I was suffering with post-traumatic stress.
In February 2017, I was invited to tell my story with TEDx in East London. My talk is about why our actions don’t always define you – based on the journey my brother and I went through battling mental illness.
Speaking on the TEDx stage is an opportunity I’ll always be grateful for. I am not a CEO of a mental health charity or a public figure, and I don’t feel like I have done anything extraordinary enough to have the honour of standing on a TEDx stage. I’m just your average 22-year-old living and working in London. But what I had was an idea that I was passionate about sharing.
It was challenging standing on a stage talking about such a personal story which I’d never spoken about publicly. But I wanted to share my message, because out there somewhere could be a 14-year-old who is going through something similar to what I did.
I want them, and everyone, to know that when it comes to struggling with mental health, there is so much more to us than what we present to the world. I used to feel that talking to others about my feelings was a weakness, that it wasn’t what “men” did. I know now this isn’t true, so I hope those who listen to my talk won’t make that mistake. I now truly believe that vulnerability is the first step to recovery.
However old you are and regardless of what credentials you have, you have a story in you that will impact others. I encourage you to discover it. There will be someone out there who will be inspired by what you have to say. It doesn’t matter that you’re not an expert. No change would happen if only experts were allowed to speak. Once you find your story, or an issue you’re passionate to speak out about, tell as many people as you can. You never know what impact you might have.”
The best stories are those which inspire others to take action. Have you got a story of active citizenship to share? Get in touch at email@example.com