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Something I Would Tell Every Person With a Mental Illness

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Mental illness can be tough. It’s extremely hard not to lose one’s sense of self. In media, this experience is usually shown through how an illness like depression can erode self-esteem. Suddenly, a person with depression loses interest in hobbies, in other people, etc.

However, there can be a much more insidious way to lose one’s sense of self — to naysayers and people who feed an already stigmatized illness. It can be incredibly difficult not to take in what those people say and live your life with conviction. This is especially true when many illnesses already make us question our self-worth and our rationality.

With that in mind, I thought I would do something sometimes missing in dialogue with friends and family: say I am proud. It takes courage to know yourself and your illness well enough to know that some people are at best, misguided. (Sidenote: the greatest advice I could give to anyone trying to support a loved one through mental illness is to commend the little things.) So, show some love in the comments, and feel free to add more reasons you’re proud of yourself regardless of what people say to stigmatize your specific illness(es).

Below I have selected some reasons to be proud.

1. To the person who tries to overcome the shame, loneliness and isolation of mental illness by trying to reach out to those around them, I am proud of you — even when someone says you are negative.

2. To the person who advocates for their needs, safety and health, I am proud of you — even when someone says it’s just teen angst, hormones, your relationship, stress, etc.

3. To the person who gets dressed and keeps pushing for their hopes and dreams, I am proud of you — even when someone believes that functionality and mental illness cannot coexist.

4. To the person whose thoughts are so dark, who cannot get out bed but never fails to try again tomorrow, I am proud of you — even when someone calls you a failure.

5. To the person who reached out about their darkest thoughts only to be met by anger, I am proud of you. It was a courageous step.

6. To the person who is brave enough to seek professional help, only to be put on a waiting list or turned away, I am proud of you. Keep trying.

7. To the person who braves the outside world or an uncomfortable social situation, I am proud of you. You’re doing great.

8. To the person who had a panic attack in school or work today but continues to try and live a normal life, I am proud of you.

There are so many expectations in life. And noise from all corners. Just know you don’t have to believe what people say. You are managing as best as you can. You are still here. You are still fighting. And that is something to be very proud of.

Getty image by Victor Tongdee.

Originally published: February 8, 2019
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