To walk into a room filled with strangers is not new for me. Circles and gatherings are where I find most joy. Yet, sharing your own mental health journey is not all joy.

I have embarked on a 12 week journey I had never thought would lead me feeling, or being who I am today. We are at week nine. The circles are called Story Gyms, eloquently crafted by Lee Rickwood from Story Fruits; a colleague and dear fellow storyteller gem in my life.

12 of us are crafting our story for Mental Health Month in October. We will showcase our stories to an audience in Coffs Harbour. We are journeying through the shadows of how we currently live with mental health challenges, where we come in and out of our past memories, which take hold of us in our daily lives.

I speak of my post trauma in living six years in violent relationships. The story, however, is not the whole experience. Reliving my six years in a five minute tale to narrate to an audience, is The End of the ''Share the Journey". What I am experiencing every week is how vulnerable it is to share your truth, the one you wanted to deny so long, as being the main cause of anxiety to healthy relating. The one that stops you from truly connecting in loving relationships. The constant battle to balance one's own mental well-being when faced with the need to feel safe and respected in a relationship, comes up time and time again when one other gets beyond the outer shell of pleasantries. And the people in circle, we are all unveiling deeper layers of our true selves, and wounds, via the power of story. We hold each other here, with story.

There are stories of letting go of shame. Stories of abandonment, yet, being held here, and in the now. Stories of feeling completely alone in the shadows of your mind, but sharing it out to those who can receive. Showing the wounds, open, seeping, with not just one reason to why you battle daily with the mind, to why you find yourself in this place today.

We are blessed to have trained therapists sitting with us during circle from Harbour Therapy Clinic, making sure we are held every step of the way.

What is the feeling,and who am I being? The power of story, week by week, allows myself to put a piece of the narrative I have created over the years, down. To just leave a piece each time there, where it is, as it is. I choose not to carry it any longer, and stop from re-creating it as something more, or less. I accept this a part of my story.

With gratitude, I acknowledge each person at Story Gym, who have voiced their journey, to give me permission to voice my own.

Simona Galimberti