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Why I Am My Own Mental Health Hero

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Editor's Note

If you struggle with self-harm or experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, visit this resource.

I am my own hero.

But I don’t feel like one most of the time.

My personality makes me want to defend, protect and attack. People who are under my care should never feel the same type of isolation, fear, sadness or depression that I have felt. I make an effort that everyone that comes into contact with me will meet the façade I have created that is strong and capable.

I am my own hero because I try my hardest.

I struggle every day.

I had an episode while driving today where I self-harmed in white-hot rage as my husband’s hands reached out to calm me. We swerved into the next lane and I calmed instantly as I felt the sting on my cheeks and chest. My husband was more stressed than I was. I was calm, cool, and collected now that I expressed myself and I wanted him to feel my calmness. I tried reassuring him. I smiled and said I was OK. I was fine. We were fine. His face was lined with stress, anxiety and fear for me. I had to be a hero for him.

The reason for my self-harm? There was a tire on the side of the road that I was scared to hit. I have never been in an accident and I have only hit something during rush hour because of someone’s tire blowout in front of me. I fear driving like something holding my heart in a vice-like grip. I drive to work and home. That’s it. When I do occasionally try and expand myself like my therapist’s asks, I take my husband along to help calm me. This was one of the exposure test runs that failed. But at least I tried.

I am my own hero because I still understood that despite my failure in preventing self-harm, I am still improving. I am progressing. I am taking my meds regularly and going to therapy. These episodes are becoming less and less. My super-strength: my meds. My ability to fly: my doctor and therapists. My shield? My husband. I have a bunch of other smaller superpowers gifted to me by my sidekicks, but these are my main ones.

I empty my guts of my secrets, throwing up sometimes. I tell my coworkers, friends and family of my struggles with psychosis, sexual abuse, and the feelings of “unsafety” that haunt me. Some believe me and some don’t. Some pity me. Some want to protect me. But what they don’t realize is that none of that matters, because I am my own hero and you… you are merely my sidekicks. Some of you are Robin to my Batman and some of you get demoted or cast aside. Some of you give me gifts of power and some of you sap that power out of me.

Everyone is an unsafe person except for me and my favorite person, my husband.

As of May 13, we have been married for five years. I was 20 years old. He was my hero. The love of my life.

But that changed a couple of years later when I developed bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and a slew of mental health problems. Suddenly, my hero couldn’t help me keep my appointments, take my medicine for me, and couldn’t hear the voices, feel the hands that touched me, or keep me safe. I had to do it. I had to be my own hero and he had to be my sidekick.

I still struggle, but every time I tell someone about my mental health, a little part of me breaks away and heals. I am strong, capable and protective. I am everything I need to be to help myself overcome these hard things. It helps that I have support. But in the long run… it’s me who gets the credit for my episodes becoming less and less frequent. It’s me who is honest about my fears. It’s me who is vulnerable. It’s me who deals with these issues. I have a slew of supportive people: my husband, my doctor, my therapist, my coworkers and select family members. They are my advocates, but I am my own hero because no one can force healing or recovery. It’s me who gets the credit and I take that and hold onto it when I have my episodes. It’s up to me. I will be my own hero. But I have sidekicks. A lot of them.

I can be your sidekick too… that’s my dream. I can be someone’s sidekick when they need backup. I have a bunch of superpowers and I am not afraid to wield them for a fellow Mighty hero.

Photo by Matt Nelson on Unsplash

Originally published: May 20, 2021
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