* At the bottom of this post you will find a link to a list of Mental Health & Illness charities/support services should you need help or information.
‘Mental illness’ is not a slur, an insult or a derogatory comment if you don’t let it be those things. It is simply fact. A state of being.
I have a mental illness, she has a broken arm, he has asthma.
Mental illness is part of me, not my entirety, but definitely part of me. When I first started blogging about my experience of mental illness someone told me that I should not define myself by it. I ignored them then and I ignore that advice now. There are many ways in which I define myself – brunette, introverted, sarcastic and yes, a person with a mental illness. After all, if I live the reality of Social Anxiety Disorder and Depression every day then why wouldn’t I describe myself as a person with those illnesses? I won’t run from it or hide or try to pretend otherwise. I have been endlessly comforted by reading about other’s experiences with ill mental health and now, I hope I can provide that same comfort for someone else.
There is a certain empowerment that comes from saying “Here I am in all my parts, illness included!” .
None of us are JUST our illness but to take ownership of it is a powerful thing.
When I was a teenager only close friends knew that I was unwell and they, being so young and uneducated about mental health in general, were also ill equipped to deal with it. I was afraid to tell anyone else, to speak out, to tell someone how I was struggling. I felt ashamed and abnormal. I had parents and siblings who loved me but I kept everything a secret from them. In those days the illness was in control. I was no longer in the driving seat of my life, Anxiety Brain & Depression Brain were winning.
I’m not saying that everything was suddenly sunshine and rainbows when my family eventually did find out. It took years of tears, therapy and trying different medications for me to begin to feel like I was in control and in the end what has actually worked for me is developing my own plan – medication if I can’t function in my daily life along with talk therapy, writing, mindfulness and meditation.
Sure, there are still moments when Anxiety Brain kicks in and I have a meltdown, maybe throughout the course of my life there will always be those moments, but a majority of the time I am well. My illness is part of me, I am not part of it. I am stronger than my illness. I own it. My name is Stephanie. I have a mental illness. I am okay.
I’m not sure I’ve written the words ‘mental illness’ enough times…so just in case – mental illness, mental illness, mental illness 😉
For me, a massive change was owning my illness and sharing that experience.
If you have an illness, any illness, has there been a standout moment where things changed for the better?
Share some positivity!