Share My Story
When To Be Honest hosted its Storytelling Workshop in November 2023, it was clear that the more mental health journeys that are shared with the public in an open and honest manner, the more we can normalize the conversation around these topics and help one another understand that we're not alone in these experiences and there is hope around the corner.
Below, you'll find the two stories from our Storytelling Workshop which we hope inspire you to share your own story! Keep scrolling to learn more about the elements of storytelling, download helpful worksheets to craft your story, and submit your own mental health story. We'll share your story on our website, social media pages and more (note: anonymous stories are welcome but we encourage you to, in true To Be Honest fashion, be open and honest about what you've been through - your experiences have made you who you are today and you should feel proud that you've come so far!).
The origins of storytelling
Storytelling is one of the oldest art forms (i.e. cave drawings, poems, chants, and rhymes).
Many cultures use storytelling to pass down traditions and lessons to the next generation.
Oral, written and illustrative storytelling have been around since humans began to communicate with one another. Cave drawings that depicted animals and humans were discovered in Lascaux and Chavaux, France. In Greece, The Iliad was first passed down through word-of-mouth before it was written down. In addition, the people of Choctaw Nation, among other Indigenous groups, were known for their fables about animals which were passed down orally.
Why we tell stories
To inform, persuade, connect and entertain
To help others understand how you experience the world
To share memories and information in a memorable way
And, in particular, why we tell mental health stories:
to show others
they are not alone.
to connect with one another and demonstrate that these are universal experiences.
to normalize the conversation around a sensitive topic
to provide evidence that having a mental illness does not mean you live a less-fulfilling or valuable lifethey are not alone
to humanize individuals that are learning to cope with their mental health.
How to connect with your audience
Don’t be afraid to name and describe raw emotions - there are many people who have likely experienced similar emotions and when you talk about them, others feel less ostracized and engaged in reading the rest of your story.
Write about the positives! While it’s important to share the not-so-great times, writing about the positive side of your mental health will help people feel hopeful for the future and change the way they view their own mental health.
Use vivid descriptions. Most people reading your story will be learning about you for the first time. Tell your story as if you’re explaining it to a stranger. For example, if you make a reference to a helpful resource, person, place, etc. make sure to explain WHAT it is and WHY it was helpful.
Make simple word choices. Write your story so that it’s easy to comprehend at an elementary school-level. Avoid complex words and make sure your story uses succinct sentences. Write as if you’re talking to a friend.
Let your personality shine through! Don’t be afraid to be yourself - chances are, others like you have similar experiences and will relate to you more if you showcase who you are through your story.
How to storyboard your story
Storyboarding your story will help organize your thoughts and help you figure out the order of events within your story. Every story consists of a few basic elements so these two story models can help you determine which pieces of your mental health journey are needed to make a complete story.
When you use the Story Mountain story model, you'll first focus on setting up your story with the basic facts (i.e. how was life before your started to experience symptoms of your mental health?). Then, you'll jump into how things changed in your life and how your mental health impacted all areas of your life. At the climax, you'll talk about the point at which things changed and started to improve for your mental health. As you tread into the falling action, you'll talk about the things that helped you through your mental health story, how relationships changed, what coping tools you use, etc. In the conclusion, you'll then leave your readers with a message of hope OR you can leave your story with a "non-ending." As you may know, the path to recovery with mental health is not linear so many of us are still on the journey to finding a balance. This is a very common experience and it's okay to not be in the place you want to be with your mental health - we're all just trying to do our best each and every day!
Similar to Story Mountain, the Journey Curve provides the writer with a simple story outline. First, the writer will hook the reader in at the start of their story - the hook can be a hopeful message, something you've learned along your mental health journey, a shocking part of your story, etc. Then, you'll write about how life was prior to experiencing your mental health symptoms. At the tip of the Journey Curve, we encounter the Inciting Incident which encourages the writer to talk about the pivotal moment when things took a turn with their mental health (i.e. when symptoms began and how that impacted you life). The writer then writes about the impact of that pivot in their life and how their mental health impacted all areas of their life. At the end of the Journey Curve, the writer then explains what their "new normal" looks like - what does life look like now? What, if any, professional help did you seek? What brings you joy and positively impacts your mental health today?
Looking for additional help to craft your story? Download this worksheet which will help you answer specific questions about your mental health journey!
Submit your mental health story!
Use the form below to share your story! It's recommended that you write your story in a separate document and paste it here. Please note that if we have story edit suggestions, your story will not immediately appear on our website. We'll be in touch if we have any suggestions for your story before it's officially published! Thank you for sharing your story with us - we hope this was a therapeutic experience!