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It’s Time to Challenge These Common Mental Illness Misconceptions

It is so easy these days for people to judge others because they have a mental illness. It is even easier to take these comments people make and believe them. It’s easy assume that just because someone said them, they must be true. However, that is not the case.

1. You are not weak.

Maybe you have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning. Maybe you have a hard time talking to people. Maybe you have a hard time finding the motivation to take care of yourself. Maybe you need a little more reassurance that you are worth it.

None of these things make you weak, nor does anything else.

Dealing with mental illness is hard. If we could eradicate every mental illness in the world, we would. But we can’t, not yet, and so we have to accept the fact they exist. Maybe we live with one ourselves, or a loved one does. One thing I have learned from both The Mighty community and meeting other people is that those who are struggling with a mental illness are some of the strongest people you will ever meet. Some have a hard time finding a will to live, but they get up and do it anyway; the kind of strength that takes is indescribable. Mental illness puts unexplainable hardship on the people who experience it. However, they keep going and push themselves to live every day, no matter what challenges are thrown their way. Choosing not to give up takes more strength than anything in this world.

2. You are not any less of a human.

With all of the stigma surrounding mental illness, it’s no wonder people are terrified of reaching out for help when they don’t feel right. They let their illness tear them apart from the inside out because society has deemed having a mental illness to mean we are not human, we are weird, and strange and not “normal.”

Society is wrong. If anything, mental illness makes you more human because it teaches you things about yourself that you never would’ve known before you were diagnosed. It teaches you how to adapt to all the changes in your life that now happen because of your illness. Mental illness does change us — I will admit that — but it doesn’t change the fact we are still human. It makes us different and sometimes causes us to make drastic changes in our lives to be able to thrive, but that’s OK.

3. You are not “messed up.”

It is so easy to think that because you live with a mental illness, you’re “messed up.” Maybe you think you’re messed up because you don’t do things the same way as other people, or because you don’t take care of yourself like you should. Maybe you think you’re messed up because you see a therapist, or because you take medication to feel OK. Maybe you think you’re messed up because you find it hard to get out of bed in the morning, or because you get anxious about the smallest things, when other people around you aren’t affected.

No reason you can come up with prove, in any way, that you are messed up.

4. You are not undeserving of love.

Anyone who says otherwise is wrong. You are just as deserving of love as anyone and everyone else in the world, mental illness or not. You are human, and humans need love to survive. Mental illness sometimes takes a lot away from us but it does not and will not ever take away our need for love like every other human being on this planet. In fact, sometimes we need a little more love and a little more reassurance that things are going to be OK, and that we are loved, and that’s OK. It’s why it is so important to surround yourself with people who will give you this love, reassurance and support.

5. You are not broken.

The number of times I say this to myself should be illegal. The worst part is that I know I am not the only one who has thought this at some point or another since they’ve been diagnosed. The day I was diagnosed, I felt like my world was crumbling apart around me. I felt like I was broken, and like everything I knew was a lie, like I lost myself and I somehow needed to find all these broken pieces the depression and anxiety took from me and put them back together.

The one thing I have realized since then is that I am not broken. Mental illness does not break us; mental illness challenges us and makes life a living hell sometimes, but it makes us stronger. We are able to take what may seem like the ruins of our life before mental illness, put them back together and feel whole again. No matter how broken you might feel right now, you’re not broken; you’re just trying to find your whole self again.

Having a mental illness sometimes means your brain telling you lies like those above, among others. Isn’t easy to believe you are not broken, messed up, less of a human or weak. Trying to tell your brain it’s wrong takes a whole lot of work, but I can promise you: you are not all the awful things you believe about yourself.

Photo by Alice Teeple