A Message for People Battling the 'Evil Twins' of Mental Illness


I want to talk about the “evil twins” of mental illness: guilt and shame. Even though they are so incredibly strong and color our lives so much, they can be defeated.

Shame is a b*tch. It really is. Especially shame for having a mental illness. Why is that something to be ashamed of? Are people ashamed when they break their leg? No. It can happen to anyone, just like mental illness can. Any size, shape, creed, color, background, orientation, social class. It can happen to anyone. If you have a mental illness, there is nothing you did wrong, and there is nothing you did to “earn” or “deserve” it. It just happened. And there is absolutely no shame in that, no matter what society or your demons say. You didn’t choose this, and it isn’t your fault. I promise.

And that leads us to guilt. I find guilt and shame go hand in hand. You will rarely find one without the other. I believe guilt makes us believe we are everything our demons say we are, that this is our fault, that we deserve it. This is not true! We are so much more than what our demons say we are. We are so much more than what our minds may lead us to believe. We are worth so much more. Many of our lives are already not made easy by the presence of mental illness. We can’t give in to what the evil twins want us to believe.

We should not feel shame for being sick. We should not feel guilty for being sick. It is not our fault. We did not choose this. And we do not deserve this. If you hold true to these things, even when it’s dark and lonely and you’re surrounded by screaming demons, I believe you will have a foothold in the climb to recovery. I have faith in you.

I know you didn’t ask for this. I know you don’t deserve this. I know you don’t want to be sick. I don’t either. But I do know you have the inner strength, the endurance, the tenacity and the will to continue forward and reach recovery. You can do it. I can do it. We can, and will do it.

Give shame and guilt the bird. Remind myself of your strength, your beauty and your will to endure, and keep moving. We got this.

Stay strong.

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Thinkstock photo via Alvaro Cabrera jimenez. 

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