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12 Honest Quotes About Mental Health

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Sometimes, we just need to know that other people understand what we’re going through. We need to know that somewhere out there in the world, another person truly gets the struggles we face every day.

These 12 mental health quotes all speak a deep truth about life with mental illness. Some of them are dark, some are thought-provoking, but all are honest.

1. “I’m not lazy. I’m just exhausted from fighting my way through every single day.” – Mimi Love

Lazy. Quiet. Snobby. Reclusive. Standoffish. People-hater. These are just some of the words people may use to describe those with mental illnesses. When you’re experiencing mental health issues, every day can be a battle with your own mind and body, and with the outside world as well. We get tired. Really tired. Long-term recovery is a marathon. Exhaustion happens. We all need to forgive ourselves for being tired and the world needs to give us space to be tired as well.

2. “Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal.” – Albert Camus

If we’re not quite tired enough after battling our constant symptoms, then we’re exhausted from having to hide those symptoms. Our modern world doesn’t give us much breathing room or space to relax, and the pressure to perform and conform is immense. So many of us wear masks every day while going to work, running errands and shopping. We have to pep ourselves up to do it and maintain our performance to get through it. It’s hard work. It’s exhausting. Take a step back and reflect for a moment just how hard you worked today; and then, feel proud of yourself.

 3. “Your worst enemy cannot harm you as much as your own unguarded thoughts.” — Buddha

It’s not just the outside world placing pressure on us. Sometimes, the very worst comes from within ourselves. The hardest part about having a mental illness is not being able to get away from it. Wouldn’t it be so nice just to have a break from our own brains, our thoughts and our mixed-up emotions? We try to stay vigilant against negative and damaging thoughts. We don’t always stop them all, though.

 4. “There are wounds that never show on the body that are deeper and more hurtful than anything that bleeds.” ― Laurell K. Hamilton

Mental illnesses like depression and anxiety can seem invisible to the outside world. It may look like nothing is wrong. It’s hard to bear. How can we be in so much pain, have to work so hard each day and not have the people around us see it? It makes receiving sympathy and empathy from the outside world much more difficult. Yes, there are external signs of mental illness and past traumas. But all too often, the very worst pain and suffering is all held within.

5. “Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also more hard to bear.” – C.S. Lewis

Mental pain may seem less “dramatic.” Compare a broken leg to a sleepless, depression-fueled night. An asthma attack to the anxiety of attending an interview. A bleeding wound to getting caught in a negativity loop. We grow up believing that mental illnesses are a sign of weakness and that mental pain is something we should just push through or get over. The thing is, sometimes we can’t.

6. “It is not the the bruises on the body that hurt. It is the wounds of the heart and the scars on the mind.”  Aisha Mirza

We’ve all been sick or injured in the past. Colds and flus, sprained ankles, cuts and bruises. Somehow, those don’t seem to hurt as much as the wounds we have inside, like the ones that other people can’t see. The ones we try to deny, even to ourselves. The ones we struggle to overcome, and that continue to bleed into the future. They are harder to treat and much harder to heal.

7. “I’ll never forget how the depression and loneliness felt good and bad at the same time. Still does.”  Henry Rollins

This is a very dark truth about mental illness. For some of us, it’s so deeply entrenched in our personalities and our experiences of life that we wouldn’t know who we would be without it. Who would you be without your mental illness? It’s a scary thought. Long-term mental illness has been my constant companion for more than a decade; it’s outlasted friendships, jobs, hobbies, houses. There’s something so alluring about falling back into old habits. Familiar and warm, yet dangerous and dark feelings.

8. “Maybe you have to know the darkness before you can appreciate the light.” — Madeleine L’Engle

Having confronted this darkness, perhaps we have learned something about life. Mental illnesses have gifts to give us, even if it doesn’t feel that way sometimes. We can receive empathy, gratitude, generosity, bravery and understanding. These are hard-earned gifts, but they’re ours. Do you see things differently because of your mental illness? Have your experiences colored the world in certain ways for you? If it has, I hope that in some ways, this has been for the better.

9. “One in four people, like me, have a mental health problem. Many more have a problem with that.” – Stephen Fry

The statistics are clear: a staggeringly large number of us have at least one mental illness. Many have two or more, and have other chronic conditions on top of that. Sometimes it feels as though we’re making progress by raising awareness in the wider community and changing the conversation about mental illness. Building some understanding and empathy in those who don’t have to fight for mental health is so important. And yet it’s clear that we have a very long way to go.

10. “Mental health is not a destination, but a process. It’s about how you drive, not where you’re going.” – Noam Shpancer

Mental health is not something you achieve once, and then you have it. No, it’s something you keep working for every day. It takes time to make progress, build healthy habits and change thinking patterns. It’s a journey to learn the skills we need to battle our mental illnesses and build emotional resiliency. Sometimes, that progress feels so slow. Building better mental health is a journey, as cheesy and sentimental as that sounds. The work we put in every day makes a real difference to our future.

11. “Sometimes the people around you won’t understand your journey. They don’t need to, it’s not for them.” – Joubert Botha

Everyone’s on their own journey; we have to do what’s right for us. When that involves fighting a mental illness, the people around us might not understand the actions we take or the way we shape our lives. People may not understand why we cancel social engagements, turn down invitations, decline phone calls or texts or disappear from social media. Tiny actions are huge parts of the journey. Accomplishments, too: a good night’s sleep or a great weekend, a fear faced or a stray negative thought overcome. They matter for your journey. They might not matter to anyone else. That can be heartbreaking. But even so, they still matter.

12. “I am tired of hiding, tired of misspent and knotted energies, tired of the hypocrisy, and tired of acting as though I have something to hide.” – Kay Redfield Jamison

Not everyone around us knows we’re struggling with our mental health. Even when people do know, they still might not see our daily realities. We keep things inside by hiding the real reason that we’re so damn tired, that we don’t want to engage, that we just need time to ourselves. We hide when things are rough, because mental illness is still seen as a weakness or a personal failing. Find a community where you don’t have to hide. Find people who know, who understand, without you having to explain.

I hope some of these quotes spoke to you. We all need a little understanding and honesty every now and then.

This story originally published on The Brave and Strong Blog.

Unsplash via Chris Barbalis


Originally published: November 7, 2018
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