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How My #ChronicallyStrong Selfies Help Me Through Tough Mental Health Days

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Sometimes it’s easier to put a filter on the smile, add a relevant quote and a few hashtags for attention than to really tell them how you feel. Filters allow me to have color in my face, pink on my lips and even a crown of flowers on my head, but it still doesn’t get rid of the exhausted person behind that smile. That person just picked lying on the couch over getting up and cooking something to eat, she chose to let people see the her who is smiling, the her who really wants to believe what she writes… the girl who believes one day she will be #beautiful.

Having spouts of depression this year has made me rely on these selfies of #strength, #chdwarrior, #bekind, #chronicallystrong… the physical, the tangible part of my struggles. What if I started posting #depressionhurts, #anxietysucks, #dontwanttomove, #nocontrol, #nolove…? Those hashtags scare people. Those are the hashtags that make that “friend” you haven’t talked to in two years text you “are you OK?” Those hashtags make people afraid to hurt you, like you’re made of glass.

The truth is I don’t want others to be affected. I’d rather deal with it myself and figure it out on my own. In one of my favorite books, “The Fault in Our Stars,” Hazel tries to explain why she can’t let someone love her, be her friend or even care for her: “’I’m a grenade and at some point, I’m going to blow up and I would like to minimize the casualties, okay?” and that’s what it feels like. Having a chronic disease makes you realize people will come and go – even before my depression and anxiety I felt like this. I’ve never been fully invested in a relationship because I don’t want that person to have to “deal” with me.

This is me. The scars, the pain, the pale skin, being afraid of pain – yet embracing it at the same time. The selfies I share make others think I’m OK, they won’t worry about me and I don’t have to keep track of who I’ve told what to. Selfies are never taken at 2 a.m. when you lie awake or 4 a.m. after you wake up from having a panic attack in your sleep. Who wants to see those? Who wants to imagine that you’re not the #chdwarrior #chronicallystrong person you have deceived everyone with?

It’s not a facade, it’s how I choose to show myself. I do believe I am #chronicallystrong, a #chdwarrior and I have #strength; those are the days I need to post those selfies. Those are the pictures I look at when I’m having a bad day, they remind me I am stronger than the thoughts that live in my head, the depression that leaves me in bed and the anxiety that cancels all my plans.

Through the past year I have learned new ways to love myself on days I want to scream, to let it out on days I want to keep it in and to remember that I’ve survived 100 percent of my worst days. Learning to love my #selfie one day at a time.

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Originally published: October 12, 2017
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