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3 Reasons We're Strong, Even If People Tell Us We're Weak

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Author’s note: These are my own opinions based on personal experience with anxiety and depression, as well as the experiences of those I’m closest to. I use “we” as a collective term for those who have a mental illness, but I also want to acknowledge that everyone’s experiences are diverse.

Sometimes, as people with mental illnesses, we’ve been told or made to believe we are weak at some point in our lives. It might be because we’re uncomfortable in social situations, or getting out of bed in the morning is a struggle, or even because leaving the house seems like the most difficult task in the world. And then there is the stigma associated with mental illness, which is perpetuated in our society and can contribute to thoughts of weakness. 

Some people think just because we don’t function like other individuals due to anxiety, depression or other mental illnesses, that makes us weak. Well, this is why they’re wrong.

1. Things can take extra effort when you have a mental illness. There can be constant exhaustion. Overthinking, battling with emotions, sleep problems and just thinking “what’s the point?” can make everyday tasks more complicated to complete. Sometimes it takes more effort to get out of bed in the morning, and it can feel terrifying even to walk to the mailbox. Ignoring the little voices in our head that tell us it’s too hard, and having the determination to achieve those tasks, takes strength.

2. Many people with mental illnesses have gone through things and experienced a lot as a result. This can include panic attacks, suicidal thoughts, the lowest-of-low days, severe confidence issues, stress, and sleep deprivation, just to name a few. Speaking from my own experience, getting through these experiences has helped me grow and, as a result, get stronger.

3. It can feel like we carry the world on our shoulders. The people in my life who have mental illnesses are the most empathetic people I have met. As people with mental illnesses, we can be attuned to a broad range of feelings. We often know what it’s like to feel deep emotional pain, and if we realize someone else is in pain, we might try to help whenever we can. Taking on these emotions, even when they feel like they’re going to consume us, can take enormous strength.

There are many reasons why, as people with mental health issues, we are stronger than perceived. In my experience, these three are just the tip of the iceberg. Just know, we are all strong in our own way, whether we have a mental illness or not.

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Image via Thinkstock Images

Originally published: December 14, 2016
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