The One Word I Need to Hear as Someone With a Mental Illness
I call my support system “my people.” My people who still love me despite the stigma that surrounds my recent diagnosis. My people who stay up with me until 3 a.m. when I need to talk, hug me when I cry and remind me daily that they love me. My people are why I fight when I don’t think I have anything left. My people remind me that I am not alone. My people mean everything to me.
My people make this a we battle, not a me battle.
Fighting a we battle is so much more powerful than fighting a me battle. My me battle is lonely. It is lonely, scary and extremely dark. But when that battle changed to a we battle, suddenly it became a little less dark, a little less scary and a lot less lonely.
Mental illness is tricky. It’s mostly invisible. It’s hard to explain. A lot happens in your head. A lot of invisible battles happen. It’s nearly impossible to put into words. And it can be hard to manage, especially by yourself.
The use of language in the mental health field can be challenging. There are a million opinions about what might be offensive and how you should phrase things. Some people see their mental illness as a part of them, some people deny its existence entirely and some people see it as all of who they are.
But there is one use of verbiage that you can start right now — a simple change that can make all the difference. Change your language from you/me to we. Make the battle a little less dark with we. Make the battle a little less scary with we. Make the battle a lot less lonely with we.
I didn’t understand it at first. When someone in my support system first told me “We got this,” I was confused. And I asked him, “What do you mean, we?” He said, “We got this. You, your husband, me, your support system. We got this.”
And that was one of the most powerful things that I have ever heard. Suddenly I realized that I was not fighting a me battle. I realized that this is a we battle. With my support system, I am not alone. And more importantly, I learned that I am a part of my own support system.
So this is my simple request, and I promise you can manage. Become a part of a we battle.
We got this.
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