“I realized I wanted to do something more. I would listen to my clients and I’d look at what I saw at bridal shows. Then I would  think to myself, “That would be even prettier if it had this kind of ruching or if it had a different kind of beading on it.”

Perched on a chair at &Yet, a web design office in Richland, WA, I listened intently as Amy Morris, owner of Amy’s Bridal, shared her story about building her business. She painted her vision of a shop that would cater specifically to a bride’s dream gown. She spoke passionately, and her audience listened attentively.

version-3-darktealWe had gathered for the Rising Tide Tuesdays Together group, which is a branch of the national movement that promotes the spirit of community over competition among creatives and entrepreneurs. Hearing Amy’s beautiful and inspiring story reminded me that everyone has a story, but not everyone gets a chance to tell it, and sadly not everyone has someone to listen.

We all carry the role of storyteller, but these experiences and anecdotes don’t mean much when there’s no one to tell them to. An untold story can be as painful as a shared story is exciting. Sometimes we have stories that we’re afraid to tell out of fear of rejection or judgment. We stay silent because we don’t want people to think we’re weak or that we can’t handle life’s challenges.

But really, that’s when our stories most need to be told. I was speaking with another friend

No one else had to know.

But as I sat among friendly faces at The Rising Tide meeting, I became quite aware of the need to find and use the key to unlock these stories.

Processed with VSCOThese stories are just as important as the stories about physical illness, romantic dreams, professional triumph and starry-eyed ambition.

According to the National Alliance for Mental Illness, 43.8 million adults and one out of five children ages 12-18 have or will have a serious mental illness. That’s too many untold stories. In the month of May I will share my experiences with mental health and invite you to do the same. It’s time to go all in and let people know that every story behind mental illness is important and deserves to be told. More importantly, these storytellers need to know that there’s a listening ear willing to hear their tale.

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