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10 Lessons From My Battle With Mental Illness

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I use to think of my mental illness as something that weakens me, but now I look at it as lessons that have strengthened me. Growing up with a mental illness has been a struggle. There are days when I feel isolated from the world, and there are other days when I feel isolated from myself. If I had to give advice to anyone struggling with any type of illness, I would tell them these 10 things that I’ve personally learned from my journey.

1. I won’t be able to heal if I give up on myself.

Giving up can often seem to be the easier option, but I feel it’s never the right one. When I feel like my mind has given up on me, I think what’s the point? I believe I have failed as a daughter, as a friend, as a girlfriend, as a worker, and as a student. I have disappointed others so much, and I constantly feel like I’m worthless. Giving up means one doesn’t get to see how much pain I’m in. If I don’t care, people often think nothing bothers me, and if nothing bothers me, then I won’t have to explain. Although sometimes explaining can be the hardest thing you have to do, it can also be the start to healing. I believe accepting this is the right step.

2. Your family and friends may not always understand you.

After you accept the fact that you have a problem, it’s time to explain it to your loved ones. I can’t count how many times I’ve screamed and cried, because they just don’t get it. I try my hardest to explain the thoughts going through my mind, but how do I explain something I don’t completely understand myself? I know my thoughts may seem irrational, but it doesn’t change the fact that they are there. There will be times when you don’t understand everyone’s reasonings, but I feel we need to respect them.

3. You’re not a bother.

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve apologized for asking for help, I’d be rich. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength. It can take more courage to ask for help than to try to fix your problems on your own.

4. You are loved.

Just because you may not love yourself at the moment doesn’t mean others don’t. I actually didn’t truly hate myself, because if I did I probably wouldn’t have been struggling so much. We can never know how many people’s lives we have changed by a small gesture.

5. Leaning on others doesn’t make you weak.

Everyone needs help at some point or another. Some people may need more help than others, but that doesn’t make them any less of a person. We are only human, and we would be nothing without each other. One person couldn’t run a business, just like one person can’t fix everything. Sometimes we need to get our strength from others.

6. Death is permanent.

There are times when I simply don’t want to be alive anymore. I don’t want to exist. I’m tried of feeling too much or nothing at all. I can’t say dying hasn’t crossed my mind. Not because I want to kill myself, but because I just don’t want to live.

7. We often hold onto anything that makes us feel something.

I’ve found we leave parts of ourselves in everything we love. We find music, art and quotes, and they can help us forget about the pain. And we search for others who feel the same, so we know we aren’t alone.

8. Sharing your story can help others.

We can inspire others by sharing our struggles. By sharing our own experiences, we can help others by giving advice. Then we can truly understand that we are not alone.

9. You’re never alone.

We all struggle, but sometimes with different demons. Some people may struggle more at times than others, but it doesn’t make your struggles any less. You can always have someone who understands what you’re going through.

10. It gets better.

There were days when it felt like nothing else could go wrong. Days when I felt like life wouldn’t get better — but when I look back after two years, I realize how life has a funny way of working out. I believe you can’t understand happiness if you don’t go through pain.

Image via Thinkstock.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

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Originally published: November 22, 2016
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