I Own It

* 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!

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22 thoughts on “I Own It

  1. Thank you for sharing! I really love your simple statement that mental illness is a part of someone but it certainly is not the defining part. I also the “Anxiety Brain” and I too have those days, but I’ve definitely learned how best to cope. This was a great post!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment! “Anxiety Brain” helps me remember that whatever I’m feeling will pass eventually. I’m glad you’re doing better too 🙂

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  2. This is such a good point! I used to hide my mental illness a lot, to the point where it was only my best friends who knew about it. Since going to uni and getting an official diagnosis I’m a lot more open about it, to the point where if a classmate asks me why I wasn’t in class I’ll actively tell them I was too mentally unwell. I feel a lot happier that way, and hope it’s spreading at least some awareness.

    Megan // https://pixieskiesblog.wordpress.com/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There tends to be some controversy around people receiving a diagnosis. I guess some people don’t like the idea of ‘labeling’ a person with an illness but personally, I found it helpful. Like you, it enabled me to speak more openly. It’s great that you’re feeling confident enough to just tell it how it is! I really admire that 🙂

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  3. Thank you 🙂 Exactly…If I can’t make a party because my social anxiety is wreaking havoc then I’ll tell the person that’s why I can’t go, no point telling them otherwise and perpetuating the idea that it’s something to hide it be ashamed of. After all, if I had a cold I would tell them that without second thought!
    You’re dead right that more education is needed, mental health is for everyone – not just those who are ill or struggling.
    Thanks for the kind words and discussion 🙂

    P.S…there was no rant & I love your blog!

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  4. Good to hear that you have been able to own your illness for the best part! I think it’s important to talk about how you feel – no one hides the fact that they have a cold, or broke their leg so why should mh be different! x

    Sophie

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  5. This is SO true! The thing is… (and this is going to sound really stupid) i’m not sure if i have a mental illness or i’m just having a tough time! I have researched mental health and checked symptoms but i’ve never really been ‘diagnosed’. It’s an odd one to think about because i don’t want to claim i have a mental illness if i don’t but deep down from what i have researched i know that something just isn’t quite right! Anyways, i agree that you should own it, you can’t help how you feel and you can’t stop feeling the way you do at the click of your fingers… so own it!

    lovely post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey, that’s not stupid at all! Firstly I’d say that if you did want a diagnosis a professional is the way to go and even then it may take more that one professional. If you don’t go for that option or they don’t diagnose you with an illness it doesn’t mean you can’t still care for yourself and recognise when you’re struggling. We all have mental health that needs to be taken care of so take some time to figure out the best way to do that for yourself. Thanks for the feedback!

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  6. Are you secretly me? 😂
    Honestly i relate to so much in this post! And you’re right, why wouldn’t you mention that you have a mental illness? It is part of you, doesn’t mean it defines you.

    why do people assume MH survivors are defining themselves as mental illness?
    This is why more education is needing in regards to MH (sorry I’m getting on a bit of a rant haha) but yes – fabulous post! 😊 X

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve experienced nothing but support and every time I read another blog I’m so happy to see the support they get too, it’s a lovely community to be part of! Thank you, that’s what I’m hoping for!

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