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I Won't Say Sorry for Struggling With Mental Illness Anymore

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Do you ever feel like you have to apologize for something related to your health that’s out of your control? I do. I apologize to my family, my friends, my co-workers and even acquaintances. But I’ve come to the realization that I don’t need to apologize anymore. And you shouldn’t either.

I think I first started noticing it in college. All of my friends had a ton of energy and they would want to hang out all day and then go out at night and stay out until what felt like too late for me. As much as I wanted to spend time with them, I didn’t have the same amount of energy and I just didn’t feel like I could handle it. They never gave me a hard time about it, but I still felt like I had to apologize for missing out.

Once I graduated college, I moved back home and started working full-time. Getting used to that schedule was hard enough, but then my co-workers wanted to hang out after work all the time. I just couldn’t wrap my head around how they could do it. When did they sleep? And how were they not as irritable as I was? I always found myself apologizing for being the lame one that wanted to go home.

Even now I still struggle with this when it comes to my own family. I recently went on vacation with my parents, brother, husband and brother’s girlfriend. I love them all so much and I cherish the time we spend together, but even during that week, I had a lot of alone time. I know they had a hard time understanding, but it wasn’t anything personal – space was something that I needed to ease my anxiety.

Despite the medication I take and the therapist I meet with regularly, I still have to manage my anxiety on a daily basis; and it can be harder some days than others. Trying to explain the way my anxiety affects me to someone without anxiety has been really challenging, but every day it gets a little easier. I’ve been lucky enough to find friends that help get me out of my comfort zone, but also understand and respect that I have limitations, which really makes a huge difference. Even though it’s a tough habit to break, I am going to make a conscious effort not to apologize for something I can’t even control. Because I don’t need to. And you don’t either.

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Unsplash photo via Danielle Peterson

Originally published: October 5, 2017
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