One of the most difficult parts of going through mental health challenges is having to endure the experience alone. Fear of the stigma and the possibility of being judged are paralyzing factors that prevent most people from opening up about their mental health issues.
Lori Sevigny and Erin Duffy are no strangers to these fears. Lori is a retired registered nurse who is also a survivor of psychiatric abuse, while Erin is a mental health advocate who is also a peer specialist. At some point in their lives, they both found themselves feeling trapped in a box while trying to survive certain psychological issues. Knowing the gravity of this situation, the two set out a mission to establish a safe space available for people who wish to share their thoughts and experiences on mental health problems.
Through Facebook, Our Stories Our Space was created to establish a community that could serve as a support system for those who were struggling with their mental health. After a month from its inception, the group currently has 133 members and continues to grow. The group now has its own website and twitter account on top of its Facebook group and page.
For Lori and Erin, they never really found a community like Our Stories Our Space before. At the same time, they were aware of the importance of these kinds of spaces. By being able to share one’s story and struggles, a burden is lifted off from that person’s shoulders. Moreover, the negative feelings of being “different” is reduced. In the end, this helps people feel better, and it contributes to the process of healing from such experience.
Members of Our Stories Our Space are given the freedom to share what they are comfortable to share. Although there is no mandatory requirement to open up about their experiences, Lori and Erin hope to have more members who are willing to engage with other members of the community. The place is perfect for those who are in need of support and are ready to support others as well.
Some of the mental health problems that members may be dealing with include anxiety disorder, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder (BPD), and many more. The number 1 rule for the community is to leave judgments behind. It does not matter if the member is officially or unofficially diagnosed with a mental health problem. For as long as they feel that they are going through a mental health crisis, the community will welcome them.
It is important to note that every person has a different threshold when it comes to their mental health capacities. What may not be a big deal for some may be extremely stressful for others. With that in mind, Our Stories Our Space seeks to cater everyone regardless of the type of emotional distress they are facing.
Ultimately, the community serves as a strong support system where people can share their stories without fear of retaliation or judgment. One of the main goals is to help people realize that they are not alone in their struggles. More than this, a journey to break stigmatization is also one of the advocacies that this community is effectively advancing.
Learn more about Our Stories Our Space through their website.