I want to talk about Mental Health
I want to talk to you about mental health. In our society, we often talk about people who are mentally ill like they're dangerous to themselves and others, and some of us can be, but not all. Aren’t all human beings are dangerous to themselves and others sometimes? Although the narrative around mental illness is slowly changing, I still read news stories about people who “suffer from mental illness.” A beloved celebrity takes their own life and everyone is surprised, sharing recent social media posts where the celebrity looked “so happy.” The reality is, they lost their fight – depression won, anxiety won, mental illness won. It is just as real as someone losing their battle with cancer.
The narrative about mental health is missing some key pieces, as long as we “suffer from” mental illness, we are passive participants. The reality is different – people who live with mental illness are survivors - survivors of depression, survivors of anxiety, survivors of OCD. We are warriors. We are living every day with an illness that makes our lives harder in ways you can’t understand unless you’ve been there, or loved someone who experiences it, and really listened. We walk through the world every day with an illness that you can’t see, but often feels impossible to overcome. It is so hard to leave my house with anxiety, it is so hard to leave the house with depression. Sometimes it feels almost impossible to let my family, my children have a life in spite of my anxiety and depression. But here I am, killing it. I have been kicking depression’s ass every single day since I was 7 years old.
We can use the phrases “suffers from depression,” or “suffers with depression,” or someone who “experiences depression,” but the reality is that those of us who claw our way to have a life in spite of our illness telling us not to, we are freaking warriors. We are like superheroes battling our invisible villains in spite of being, at times, outnumbered, outgunned, and overwhelmed. Like Superman going out anyway, even if the world was coated in kryptonite. I get up and out of bed, get dressed and drop my kids off to school and drive home instead of wrapping them up in bubble wrap and bulletproof vests, pulling the shades tight, and staying where I feel safe. Today I got dressed and left the house! This week, I interacted with new people and tried new things! For someone with the depression/anxiety combo meal, these “small steps” can feel the most impossible.
I am not a passive victim of mental illness, helpless in the face of my own neurotransmitters. I am a badass warrior woman, battling my own brain every single day. And I’m winning, even when it doesn’t look like it. Sometimes, even when I don’t leave the house, I am still winning. Because the goal of the battle is not to do all the things, to act as if I don’t live with my illness – sometimes I do, I pass as normal in the world, I “live up to my potential” in moments of strength, of greatness, of sheer luck, and by the skin of my teeth. The goal of the battle is always, at its most basic level, to survive. The goal of the battle is to live to fight another day.
If you, too, live each day fighting your inner demons, trying to be your own best friend, or at least a neutral neighbor, instead of your own worst enemy, you are a warrior. You are a badass. Look at you, kicking ass and taking names! You are still here, that means that you are winning! And I am so glad you are still here. Today, I am also glad that I am still here. I’m proud of both of us.
If you are in the dark, the thick, the pit, the panic, and you need to reach out, help is available.
If you are scrolling through your friends list or your contacts in your phone, looking for someone who you think would get it, but keep coming up empty, help is available. You do not have to do this alone, you do not have to pick one of your friends to dump what feels like too much on.
Help is available.
DIal or text 988 for the suicide crisis line.
OR, text “HOME” to 741741 for the Crisis Text line.
Reach out. Survive - surviving is enough.
Stay alive and recover from today’s battle.
Live to fight another day.
You matter to me.