4 Things You Don't See When I'm Struggling With My Mental Illness
1. I am dependable.
But yes, sometimes my mental illness makes me seem unreliable. My anxiety will so often tell me the day of that I can’t be “on” that day. I’ve cancelled plans because I can’t get myself out of the house. I know full well it is safe, and that nothing could possibly go wrong, but my head still pulls me away. It can be hard not always being able to count on myself. If you meet me halfway, I will be there. On the good days, I’m ready to explore the world with you. I am happy to comfort you, whether you just need me to listen or you need a hug. Even on the bad days I am still trying my best to not shut anyone out. I want to let people in so they really get to know me. I am trying. I just need other people to do the same.
2. I am a safe space.
My emotions can be unpredictable. One moment I may be fine and the next I am a nervous wreck. I may go to bed at night feeling on top of the world, but I wake up feeling like there is a lead weight pressed to my chest. You can’t have expectations of me as my moods and actions will usually feel out of the ordinary to you. Although I may not always be “happy” or “upbeat” and may seem like a “downer,” it’s not all I am. I never intend for my emotions to hinder your life. I never want my emotions to cause you harm. They affect me and I try my best to keep their destruction reigned in. I am someone you can come to because I understand. I want to know where you’re coming from. I want you to feel like you’re not alone in this. You’re not “crazy” and I don’t want you to feel hurt.
3. I am (pro)active.
Sometimes I just don’t have the energy or motivation, but others don’t see it that way. They see laziness. I start to think, Why I can’t just get up? It seems so easy, but my body just won’t let me. But while my body may be inactive, my mind is hard at work. It may not look like it or in the way you expect, but I’m trying. It is a daily job to take care of my mind. I am always putting in effort to put my pieces back together. I don’t intend to let this define me. I am constantly reminding myself to practice self-care. I am doing quite a lot in my life even if someone only sees me when I’m down.
4. I am strong.
When I’m feeling low, the more I find myself thinking, Maybe I am “unable.” Everyone else thinks this is some excuse, that I can’t see the truth. Am I hiding behind these so called “conditions”? How is this a disorder if what someone else sees doesn’t seem to show any sign of sickness? I have to keep reminding myself the lies in those questions. I don’t owe it to anyone to prove myself. I am capable. I did not choose this, but I am pushing myself forward. I am working hard to understand and cope with what’s going on in my head. I know I am worthy of this life. My willpower does not determine my place in this world. I know I am not always my own savior and I know when to reach out. I am stronger by asking for help instead of hiding of away.
Everyone thinks one thing or another the minute I mention I have a mental illness — let alone that I have more than one. I can feel the judgment. I know this is scary to some, but trust me when I say I am more scared than you. But I know I am not my mental illness. We’ve been told wrong about those struggling with their mental health. We’ve been told they aren’t worthy, they are weak. But we were told wrong. We deserve love and community. We shouldn’t be afraid to hope and dream and love. We are not all we seem. We aren’t acknowledged enough for the hard work we put in to understanding and coping with our mental health. We are worthy and our stories deserve to be told.
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Thinkstock photo via berdsigns.