This is the face of a mental health patient.
Although May is officially mental health awareness month, this isn’t the only reason why I’m writing this post. I don’t think issues should only be focused on certain dates, weeks or months adorned with pretty slogans and ribbons- especially issues that affect every minute of your life.
Yesterday, as I always do, I shared my life openly on my social media, no holds barred. And par to course, someone had something to say. Usually, the negative comments are easily dismissed with a “bless their heart,” and a eye roll. But no, not this day. This man commented,
“I’ve scrolled through your feed, and I’m convinced you have mental issues. Serious ones. You are crazy. Just sayin.’”
My IMMEDIATE, honest, gut reaction? To jump on the defense. To explain how I am NOT mentally unstable. Or crazy. Not right in the head. Or any other derogatory or discriminating terms we so often as a society correlate to anyone struggling with any health issue that isn’t about their physical health. But I stopped. I wrote out heated one liners that would show him how wrong he was. I had so much to say about how I felt he was inconsiderate, underqualified, rude and careless with his diagnosis of my health by my perfect square pictures he dissected. I wanted to. I always want to explain why I am okay.
But, was I?
“I always want to explain why I am okay... But, was I?”
I did not respond. He would move on, probably on to diagnosing his next social media patient. My words would not change him or make his words less disruptive to my mental peace that day nor change his ways. Instead, I reflected on WHY I was defensive. Because, at the end of the day, it wasn’t about that person’s comment at all.
So here is what I would say to him or you or anyone who wants to know about my mental health. My truth:
Yes. I have battled and continue to struggle with mental health issues. Anxiety. Depression. Body Dysmorphic Disorder. Binge eating disorder. Yes. I have taken prescription medications for the aforementioned issues at times. ( Anti-anxiety meds. Anti depressants.) YES. I have felt judged by others, including my family and friends, for having faced these issues. I have felt less than, or broken because I couldn’t just “shake out of it,” like so many seem to think you can. YES. I have felt weak for seeking treatment. I have hidden that from others, because I felt they wouldn’t view me as sane, stable or strong. I have felt like a failure for not being “strong” or “tough” enough to just handle it. YES. I have often questioned if I can inspire, help or change anything in this world when sometimes my own world feels like a dark, scary place and I feel lost and need help myself. YES. I have lost a loved one/friend who had faced some of the same battles, and couldn’t find their way out, and felt the only answer was to take their own life than seek treatment or ask for help or speak up for themselves. They felt the SAME ways I have felt above. I still feel some days.
So, here I am.
YES, I am the face of mental illness.
“I have felt less than, or broken because I couldn’t just 'shake out of it,' like so many seem to think you can.”
We don’t bat an eye if we go to the ER when I break my leg or need my head stitched up. But when my heart and mind are literally self deteriorating in a war against each other inside my head, and I feel like I am drowning in a sea of people, filled with anxiety and no breath can fill my lungs, I am not sick. I am sad. Right?
No. But that is the reality of how many view those who face these battles. Sad. Weak. Scared.
I am the face of a mental health patient. I struggle. I cry. I break. I feel lost. I don’t know how to heal or cope some days. I am often ashamed and feel viewed as weak if I admit these things. I still have a hard time even talking about it, because it’s scary how little compassion and understanding there is for those facing these battles.
But guess what?
Admitting these things? Speaking up? Acknowledging your truth, no matter how scary/dirty/broken you think it is? Is strong as HELL. And admitting you need help, even stronger.