I am pretty sure I actually teared up when I streamed one day back in October 2017 and not one person came for forty minutes. I was talking to myself while researching a mental health topic, but no one was there to care that I was doing so. I think I actually said out loud: “who cares if I’m here, I should just give up.” Then, quietly, I resolved to keep researching, because I knew I would be doing the same thing if offline otherwise.
At that exact moment someone popped into my chat and asked me what I was doing. I talked about my research topic and how happy I was to see this person chat with me because without interaction, I was just talking to myself about medical diagnosis, which I found to be ironic to say the least. We both laughed a bit. That was just about a year ago as of this writing.
I’ve learned more about my self-worth and image over the past year than in the preceding twenty-seven. I have learned to see myself as a person before I see myself as a streamer or a writer, where before I thought that what you do must define you. I’ve learned that you can be more than you can ever define yourself to be, because while public perception is close to what you put out, it is also completely nuanced. I did not start streaming thinking this would be something I learn.
I’ve also found out that people interact with each other based on their personal emotions and assumptions. Every struggle, every day for each person, is theirs and theirs alone. Every comment, every word we speak has little to do with the person we are speaking to and everything to do with the ongoing battle in our consciousness (and subconscious selves, if you’re into psychoanalytics).
Keeping all of that in mind, the one word that comes when I think of how to summarize it all, streaming, writing and discussing mental health online is: Community.
This has also been discussed ad nauseum as it is the cornerstone of Twitch, but from October to October, it’s the one thing that connects it all. Who reads my writing? My community. Who understands what my dysphoria truly feel like? My community. I started the project telling my husband: “If I cannot help just one person during every episode and with every piece of my writing, I will quit. But all I need to keep this up is one person.” That count’s a bit higher than one today, and I am grateful beyond words.
I frequently say that Mxiety is an idea of hope, which is bigger than the person who started it or any one person who supports it. It’s the belief that since we live in a time when the world doesn’t know how to feel about mental illness, it’s up to us to show them and take care of each other when no one else knows how. It what created Be The Light as our sign off.
Just over twelve months ago, I felt alone and scared, like no one was listening even though I was surrounded by all the love my incredible husband and friends could offer. I felt stupid, yet angry, and most of all, I felt like I needed some kind of purpose. Maybe if I let others know what I knew, I could make them feel like this less often. And, I just wanted to stop seeing people with mental illness misunderstood and mistreated because of things they had little control over.
Never in my wildest dreams, when I sat sobbing three years ago on the floor of my bathroom, wishing I could die, did I ever realize that I could incubate a whole community. When I was driving and talking myself into not ending my life, I could not fathom the number of people who had done exactly the same and were looking for someone to tell them they are not alone. I thought of making something like Mxiety, but in that moment all of those people I could be helping were faceless and nameless, just me working behind the scenes to help someone.
I know I found some version of a calling, when I noticed that I would not shut up when someone asked me what I could do if I could start anything. I would launch into detail about my plans for a website, a live-stream, and finally getting myself to write consistently.
It took a community of like-minded people to confirm to me, beyond a doubt, that there is a friend out there on the internet for all of us. That people want to help each other, especially those who’s hardship was invisible. Seeing others like them made them finally feel as special as every one of us wants to feel in our lives.
These are no longer just “people out there with mental illness,” but friends and kind humans who are willing to help others after knowing for years what being alone feels like. It became a group of people who work everyday just to be a functioning version of themselves. They all have names, they all just want to be loved like anyone else and many of them (50+) have given me the honor of appearing to share their story live on air.
Those who come back to read and see more inspire me to keep learning, keep pushing and keep trying, even though some days I am painfully reminded that I need more knowledge, more experience, more time and more ...everything else.
After listening to over 50 stories, I can conclude that while each of us lives a different life, which informs how we handle our hardships, the hardships themselves –the human experience—it's the same.
So, if you haven’t yet, come share your story, because every single one of them matters, each one makes at least one person feel less alone. Doesn’t matter if you have thousands of people following you online, or you work as an accountant, you too can be the light for others.
If you do currently follow me and are reading this because that’s a thing you do, thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for taking the dream of a girl crying in her car and making me feel better than I ever thought I could. You have made my dream a purpose.
If you are struggling today, please don’t end your journey on this earth with us. I know how bad it can hurt, but amidst that I found my passion. I believe you can get up and find yours. Or tell me to F**k off, what do I know?