Long before my six-time award-winning book, Smiling on the Outside: Secrets, Sex, Shame and the Search for Self-Love came out in June 2017, I was using #MeToo, talking about Me, too! Moments and sharing my Me, too! Moments Manifesto.
I know keeping secrets is harmful to our well-being, which is one of the reasons I shared mine in my book. I believed (and still do) in the healing power of creating and sharing these Me too! Moments.
My version of and vision for The Me too! Movement is very different from the one we’ve read about in headlines, heard about from television news anchors, and seen splashed across social media. For me, the message of Me, too! is about compassion and personal connection.
So when Alyssa Milano’s tweet went viral, and suddenly everyone was talking about a Me, Too Movement, I got excited. Finally, the message was going to take off. My message was now going to be able to reach all those women I otherwise couldn’t.
But that’s not exactly what happened. Not even close. I thought I’d come up with the perfect way to share my message within my book, but the media didn’t see it. They only saw big names, celebrity
Then I started hearing about how the movement had been around for a long time. Suddenly, I found myself dealing with imposter syndrome and feeling like a fraud, even though my early research found nothing of earlier movements or uses of the me-too phrase. And the more attention they gave to the viral #MeToo campaign, along with the discovery that another woman, Tarana Burke, had been talking about Me-too for more than a decade, the more I went into hiding, and the more my health suffered.
My anxiety went through the roof, depression took hold, and rather than continuing to promote my award-winning book, speaking to groups and getting my message to the people who needed it, I shut down. I feared how people would view me and my work in light of the viral campaign.
My life and my health were hijacked by #MeToo.
And like most experiences that feel horrible at the time, I received a gift from all this. I had become a master of hiding the truth about what was happening to my body. In the same way, I had kept my other secrets from those closest to me.
Even though I saw the light of hope in someone’s eyes through the Me, too! Moments we created by sharing stories of trauma and shame, talking about my health issues felt different, so I stayed silent.
Those days are over.
Holding in secrets out of fear or shame is a sure-fire way to wreak havoc on our minds and bodies, of that I am sure. And when we’re living with health challenges of any kind, we cannot afford to do anything to further jeopardize our minds or bodies.
I know there are lots of you who have had similar health experiences. We need each other. We need to know we’re not alone, not the only one, and we’re not crazy either.
Even if the whole world is talking about a different kind of “Me, too,” I still believe in the healing power of those little words.
My health issues aren’t going to go away, and neither am I.
A longer version of this article originally appeared on HuffPost.