Old news now, but you know I ‘opened up’ about my life with OCD in August, and that I eventually took the fight to it and seized a healthy control over it (most of the time).
I wanted to share what ‘opening up’ has done to, and for me, because doing so was something I feared so much, for all the usual stigma associated reasons, but quite honestly shouldn’t have with the benefit of hindsight.
I hope the following might help others in their thinking as to whether or not to ‘open up’ themselves.
First of all I can categorically confirm that I am not alone! Since ‘opening up’ so many known and unknown people have spoken to me privately about their experience of mental difference and challenge.
As a consequence a tremendous amount of two-way good feeling, intention and compassion has been shared, which in itself has made us all feel good, supported and a little bit free’er (if the word exists)!
It has also motivated me to speak more and more about my personal experience, which seems to be encouraging more to do the same. What a brilliant outcome and a great step towards increased acceptance, understanding, support and most importantly, people and businesses recognising that mental difference can be harnessed to support doing even better business!
Secondly, I have been asked by some to help them tackle their personal challenges by intimately sharing how I took the fight to my illness, what my coping and containment strategies are and how I have developed a pragmatism about my OCD.
I cannot begin to describe how rewarding it is to help others combat the symptoms of their illnesses and support them to feel better about life. This again is a joint learning exercise because combating OCD is different to combating, for example, depression, however, there are some demonstrable similarities and cross overs. By sharing how we approach our own situations and challenges it enables us to grow and tweak our weaponry, which is tremendously powerful for all.
Finally speaking about my USP, AKA my mental difference, which has given me a different and sometimes enhanced skill set and capability, has surprisingly opened a new world of professional opportunities for me.
I happily and freely speak to customers and potential customers about why I am a good problem solver. It’s because I have been solving irrational catastrophic situations in my head for 30+ years, which has subsequently trained and continually exercised my brain to solve rational problems, such as creating optimum resourcing strategies and methodologies, and automating global HR functions, including; innovating new HR technologies.
I have had new event speaking opportunities on a completely different subject; mental difference in business, which include; Roffey Park Institute’s 70th anniversary wellbeing seminar, DRIVE at the House of Lords with the amazing and inspirational Raj Tulsiani and chairing regular Corporate Wellness Innovation Forum meetings.
I have also developed the HERO Mental Health Readiness Model, which supports employers to increase their entire workforce’s productivity, and have a rapidly growing list of companies that are engaging with me to present to, and consult with, them!
So here was something I thought would potentially label me, hold me back and inhibit my career. On the contrary, it has taken my career to a whole new level and forged stronger relationships with most I know, new relationships with people I didn’t and given me the opportunity to help others individually or en masse via supporting their employers.
So I’m not going to beat myself up about why I took so long to ‘open up’ (that’s me being pragmatic again), I’m going to continue to embrace and celebrate my difference, use it to support others and hopefully encourage them to ‘open up’ as well, and maybe, just maybe, we will remove the stigma associated with mental difference, and all diverse differences to that matter, together.
Let’s make 2017 the year when difference becomes the driving force for better living, relationships and business outcomes.
All the best.