I Have a Mental Illness, but It Doesn't Make Me Incompetent


I’ve been asked a couple times recently what I want people to know about me as someone living with mental illnesses. My answer almost every time I’m asked this question is the same.

I want people to know that I am competent.

Yes, I struggle with mental illnesses. Every day of my life I choose every action carefully in order to best accommodate my illnesses. I wake up every morning not knowing how hard that day’s fight is going to be, but still I wake up.

I like using the verb “fight” when I speak about my struggle with mental illness because is shows that it is work. It shows it is not easy. But fights can be won. It might not be easy, but it is possible.

So I wake up every morning to fight and I go about my life. My mental illnesses don’t control my whole life. I am still able to get my everyday activities and chores done.

I just finished my first year of college. During that time I lived alone in the dorms. I was responsible for getting myself to my own doctor appointments. I was responsible for taking my medications. I was responsible for my own meals and self-care. I was responsible for making sure I kept up on my coping skills so I wouldn’t down spiral. I was responsible for making sure I went to my classes and did my homework.

I was a peer educator and set up events to speak to students about depression and suicide. I completed a national peer educator certification. I was involved in Anchor Club, a club that provides support for and advocates for students on campus with disabilities. Next year I’m going to be the president of that club.

I don’t tell you all this to be like, “oh look what I can do.” I’m telling you all this to show I am still able to take care of myself. I tell you this to show you my mental illnesses don’t stop me from doing anything I put my mind to.

It doesn’t happen often, but there have been times I’ve felt people don’t take me seriously when they find out about my illnesses. At times, I avoid telling people who are higher up than me for fear they will no longer see me as competent.

I don’t want to do that. That’s the main reason I speak out as much as I do, because I want to do anything I can to break the stigma attached to mental illness.

So that’s my message today: Yes, I have mental illnesses and yes, I am just as competent as anyone’s else.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via cyano66


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Related to Mental Health

close up of woman's hands in coffee shop holding smartphone near coffee cup on wooden table. vintage light filter

12 iOS and iPhone Apps for Emotional Wellness

As a therapist, I am always looking for tools to expand the benefits of counseling past the therapy hour. When I look to apps, I am looking for tools that are steeped in evidence-based strategies for managing stress, depression, anxiety and trauma. You’ll find some of my favorite apps for emotional wellness below, which can be used to [...]
Demi Lovato

12 Wonder Women Who Inspire Us to Battle Mental Health Stigma

As superhero fans (and anyone who enjoys a kick-ass female-led action movie) flock to theaters to see “Wonder Woman,” which has quickly become the best box office debut for a female director ever, we started thinking about the Wonder Women in the mental health community who use their platforms to kick mental health stigma’s ass (and [...]
young beautiful hispanic woman at home bedroom lying in bed late at night trying to sleep suffering insomnia sleeping disorder or scared on nightmares looking sad worried and stressed

What Happens on My 'Zombie Days' as Someone With Mental Illness

No amount of medication or treatment can take away my occasional “zombie days,” as I call them. I wake up and feel completely out of it, like the smallest piece of my subconscious makes me get out of bed and get ready for the day. Staying in bed sounds perfect and I surely don’t rush [...]
drawing of a puzzle

The Many Ways Art Has Colored My Recovery and Erased My Shame

We use my art extensively in my therapy sessions. My therapist locked onto it early on as a tool because whenever we hit on a new issue, I tend to revert to being non-verbal. My therapist is excellent at working with me in this state. Because we’re dealing with trauma that happened when I was [...]