Tell Your Story

Join the movement. Draw a heart on your arm (sleeve), and upload a selfie to Facebook, Instagram or Twitter with #HeartOnMySleeve and a  caption sharing your experience with mental health and how you’ve grown from the experience.

Something only has a stigma when it’s not accepted as mainstream. Statistically speaking, it’s hard to find something more mainstream than mental health… so why shy away from the topic if we know it affects almost everyone we meet in some way? How many times have you not said how you feel in fear of being judged, only to find out that same person has gone through something almost identical to you? How good does it feel when you both realise that all those “weird” and “abnormal” thoughts and feelings you were having, weren’t so uncommon after all? Sharing what’s on your mind and saying how you feel is so important for our emotional health. It may not solve all our problems in one go, but what it does do is allow us to is build a strong foundation to work from. It helps us focus on the issue that’s causing the distress, and let go of all the secondary emotions like guilt, shame and anxiety about the anxiety! 

Sometimes that is a little easier, for example if we are asked about it. But other times, we need to find the courage to volunteer it, when we know that it will help someone else or help ourselves feel better. No matter how hard we try, it’s very difficult to heal on our own – and that’s not a reflection on ourselves. It is the nature of emotion and the mind in many cases. It’s not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength that you are ready to grow. You do not have to be fully recovered or have overcome your illness by ANY means. In fact – these are not stories of “I’m fixed”, these are stories of shared human experience. Feeling connected and relating to others is more important than feeling cured.

We are in this together.

Mental health is a sensitive area that needs careful consideration as to how and when we talk about it. It can be incredibly confronting to speak to a trained Psychologist about your inner struggles, let alone announce it to the world on social media. Not only is it emotionally difficult, it has practical implications as well. Although unlikely, it’s important to be aware that not everyone can relate to or understand what you are going through. You may receive mean or hurtful comments online in response to your public vulnerability. Others might be concerned about how your story might be viewed in the workplace and if it may impact your job security. These are all very valid concerns; however, this does NOT make you wrong and doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t talk about your issues.

The fact that it is challenging to talk is the whole reason why we are here. It doesn’t need to be hard. If we can get to a level of social acceptance and understanding around the issue, we won’t have to hide from this anymore. It will be normal.

And that starts with us…. Right here

Some things to consider before you share your story:

  1. When to share – the right time to open up is different for everyone. Do you have a lot going on at the moment, where something like this may be too much to cope with right now? It’s incredibly important that you have people around you that you can trust and confide in, safely and privately, when you chose to talk openly about your feelings. If things aren’t received well by one person, you want to know that there is always someone else who will accept you no matter what.
  2. How much to share – how much you want to share also varies from person to person. Maybe just letting others know that you aren’t feeling too great, or have had some challenges in the past is the right amount to start a conversation with someone. Maybe you are ready to talk through something that’s been on your mind for a while, and want to show others how you dealt with it.
  3. Who to share with – if you aren’t ready to share with all your friends on social media, maybe use the campaign as a way to open up to just one person. Send them your Heart On Sleeve selfie, and tell them your using this opportunity to be honest with them about some things you’ve found challenging, and that you may need help with. Others may be ready to share their message in larger forums that hundreds or thousands will see. Our motto is “if it helps just 1 person (including yourself), then it’s worth it”

The important thing is: wait until you are comfortable, and only say what feels appropriate for you.

Don’t try and work all this out on your own – ask some people you trust such as close friends, family or therapist if getting involved in this campaign is something that may be beneficial for you. They can help you approach it in the right way. Take things slow – there’s no rush.

Check out our Resources section for some tools to help you on your mental health journey.

  1. Draw a heart on your forearm or sleeve (using any type of pen or marker)
  2. Take a selfie
  3. Caption the photo with your experience with mental health (more info on what to say in the section below)
  4. Share on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #heartonmysleeve
  5. Welcome! You’re part of the movement

Want to show your support/get involved, but not ready quite ready to share the details? No worries! Just take a selfie following the above instructions, and upload to social media, without the personal story.

Below are some options to help you get started:

  • Option 1 (general support): “Today I am proud to wear my heart on my sleeve in support of the @heartonmysleevemovement to show people it’s courageous to be vulnerable. Join the movement and wear your heart out for mental health #heartonmysleeve @heartonmysleevemovement”
  • Option 2 (personal story): “It’s time we move from thinking “it’s OK to talk”, to actually believing it, and owning our story. (INSERT PERSONAL STORY). Join the movement and wear your heart out for mental health #heartonmysleeve”

You can also share our video on Facebook or YouTube as well with anyone who might be struggling at the moment – this seems to help people know they aren’t alone.

If this experience brings up any troubling emotions, make sure you go and chat to a professional who can help you work through this. The resources page is a great place to start.

We aren’t trying to “fix” everyone else, nor do we need to be “fixed” ourselves! The goal here is authenticity. In turn, this will help others feel better. We don’t need to give advice on what to do and how to “get out of the rut” (necessarily). That’s what the professionals are for. Our goal is to build a sense of community and acceptance of what it means to be vulnerable together.

We suggest including 2 key parts in your story about mental health:

  1. Outline what challenges you’ve had e.g. if you’ve had a diagnosis, some of the day-to-day issues that that has brought about in functioning, relationships & living the life that you want. Essentially being vulnerable about the impact it’s had on your life.
  2. How these challenges have made you who you are today, how you’ve grown stronger from them, and what you’ve learned about life as part of facing these challenges.

We encourage the practice of safe authentic acknowledgement of challenging emotional and relational experiences, and celebrate the ensuing growth and personal development that results from enduring hardship to inspire those around us.

Some things you should not do/say:

  • Disclose overly traumatic events or content that is too detailed and may be triggering to people who read it (such as details around suicide attempts or self harm). Expression is important, but intimate descriptions of pain and misery are unnecessary and unsafe.
  • Adopt a victim mentality or front a revenge campaign to shame others in public. This is not an excuse to get back at someone or bully them. Please do not discriminate, name and shame individuals, or make threats.
  • Encourage the use or practice of any activities that cause harm to self or others. All imagery or content of this nature is completely against the spirit of the Movement.

Help to foster a safe place for people to share their journeys. Content like the above will undermine the integrity of what the Movement is trying to achieve.

Almost every single person has an experience with battling painful emotions and challenges in life. Sure – the intensity may vary, and our ability to cope and respond to events. It can range from a bad day at work, to losing a relationship or loved one, all the way to chronic lifelong mental illnesses that chemically affects the brain and the way we behave. Regardless, the core remains the same. Suffering is universal. It doesn’t discriminate. 

All stories of mental health challenges are welcome

  • Clinically diagnosed or no official diagnosis
  • Mild to severe impairment on functioning
  • Personal experience with mental health, or your experience of seeing/caring for someone else who has been affected
  • Male or female
  • Young & old
  • All colours, races and nationalities, and geographies

Sharing done in the right way, is healing. So lets get amongst it!

We are founded in Australia, so it may seem like we are only focused on inviting those down under to take part (crikey!). But that’s not the case. This is a digital-first, human-first, global Movement. Everyone owns this equally.

 

Draw some inspiration from other people who’ve shared their stories to get an idea of what it means to wear your heart on your sleeve.