I believe this with all my heart. Why? Because my prison was unlocked by a few wonderful (and I believe inspired) people who shared their stories in the very scary time when I didn't feel like I could tell anyone about my struggle with depression. I'm not even sure if all of them know the powerful effect sharing their story had, but they changed my life forever.
One of these influential people was a friend who wrote very honestly and openly on her blog about the heartbreaks she had faced in her life. I remember reading her words and feeling so amazed at her bravery and strength in sharing the deepest, most painful parts of her life. She opened a desire in me to someday be brave enough to share my deep struggles as bravely as she did.
Another person was a friend in my ward who was struggling with mental illness and was courageous enough to write a few posts on facebook about her struggles. I immediately knew that she was someone I could trust with the painful feelings in my heart, and she ended up being the first person other than my husband that I told about my struggles. She was an angel, a shining light, in a time that was so dark and filled with fear.
Yet another person was a teacher at BYU-Idaho who spoke very openly about her past struggles with mental illness when it applied to what we were learning, and she helped me realize that maybe I didn't have to be so afraid, maybe I wasn't as alone as I thought, and maybe someday I would be able to tell someone about my struggles in the hopes of helping them realize they weren't alone either.
My prison, the dark, lonely, painful place that seemed to have no escape, was opened by the bravery and courage of others. I feel so indebted to them for helping me find a way out of that darkness.
Because of the selfless acts of others in helping me through the hardest times of my life, it is my mission to make sure that I can be the key to someone else's prison. That is what motivates me to share even the deepest parts of my life through this difficult time, because maybe my sharing can help someone else through their darkness.
I am so thankful for the MANY people who have willingly and bravely shared their stories on this blog and have allowed their stories to reach those who need them. I have seen miracles unfold throughout this process, and I feel so humbled to have witnessed these beautiful moments.
I truly believe that our individual life experiences are given to us as gifts to help each other. Whether in sharing openly or sharing in private conversations, our stories CAN be the key to bring light, joy, and hope to another.