When You Feel Hypocritical for Still Struggling With Your Mental Health

Recovery is beautiful, complicated and terrifying. It hides the fact that your struggles did not suddenly cease to exist – rather, they were just forced into the back of the mind, maybe temporarily, maybe for the long run. When I told others about my struggles with mental illness, their responses were, “You’re better now, right? You’re doing all of this advocacy work.”

Well yes, I am better, but there are days where I feel like I am on the losing end of my battles, being pushed toward the edge of a cliff and somehow managing to fight my way to the middle ground again. Those sometimes happen to be the days after I post a new article on recovery, or the days I helped a friend seek out help for their own struggles.

It is then I think: Who am I to give this advice? Who am I to talk about the perils of triggering conversations or the accuracy of mental illness in the media when I leave each discussion with my demons trailing behind me?

If you are reading this and can relate, here are some of my reassurances and realizations.

1. Remind yourself about all of the people that you are helping – knowingly and unknowingly – by sharing your story or helping your friends. Receiving positive feedback from my articles and advocacy work makes me feel like my efforts are worthwhile.

2. Acknowledge that unhealthy thoughts might pop up from time to time, and know that not acting on them shows your strength.

3. It is OK to take a break from talking about mental illness if it feels too close to home. It does not make you weak. It shows you are taking the time to ensure you are starting the conversation from a healthy mindset.

4. You should not be someone’s only source of counsel. There is a balance between giving them advice from a similar place and becoming their therapist.

5. Know that your recovery is something to be proud of, not second-guessed or stigmatized. You are not a hypocrite for having your struggles; in fact, the world needs people like you to say, “I have been there before. And I can help.”

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

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Thinkstock photo via sntpzh

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