I write and share a lot about mental illness. I could talk for hours about the need for awareness of this highly stigmatized battle that so many people are fighting behind closed doors. If you know me, you know my social media is littered with quotes about hope and remaining faithful during immensely painful times in our lives. I even have the Suicide Prevention Hotline number in sticker form on the back of my car. If you ask me for help, I'll be the one to drive you to the hospital. I'll be the one to stay up early into the morning with you just so that you feel safe. I will be the one to tell you the hard stuff if it means that you can get healthier. But seldom will I share why I am so passionate about this. Rarely will I tell you why I know so much about what mental illness feels like. I've never been completely honest publicly, and I'm beginning to realize that by not sharing this, I have perpetuated the stigma. So here it goes, internet.
I deal with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Clinical Depression. I've dealt with symptoms that have varied in severity since I was 5 years old. It took me a very long time to admit I needed help, and to actually ask for that help. But praise God, I did ask for help, and I fight for my life daily. I take a little pink pill every morning that reminds me that I can't do everything by myself and that it's okay to need support. And each week, I go see my lovely therapist to make sure I'm making positive and healthy steps toward healing. I have a fantastic support system of family and friends, to whom I owe my life. And I have faith in a God who loves me even though I cannot understand His ways.
I am far from whole, I am far from perfect, and I am far from conquering this. I choose to wake up and take my meds and go to therapy and fight. Not because I'm strong, but because I believe my life is worth living. I want to really live, with no more panic, and no more time stolen from me, no more laying in bed all day, and no more self-hatred. So I do my best, and I try to advocate for others, and I try to make my normal a socially acceptable normal.
People don't feel the same shame in cancer, or MS, or the common cold that 43.8 million people who suffer from mental illness have to feel upon diagnosis and prescription of medication. As a society, we are more comfortable talking about other parts of the body than we are with the chemical workings of the brain. It's time that the stigma end.
I do not share this to draw attention to myself or heaven-forbid romanticize the suffering that dealing with a mental illness can be. But I want you, whoever you are, to know that you're not alone. I am your friend, your family member, your coworker. You are more understood than you know! You do have the strength within you to fight, and get help. You deserve so much more than what you're letting yourself have.
If you are struggling mentally or emotionally, please don't hesitate to ask for help. You are not weird, you are not crazy, you are not a burden. I promise it gets better and that there is sunshine waiting for you on the other side of the pain. I love my life, and I love you, and I want you to be alive.
Suicide Hotline - call 1-800-273-8255
Crisis Text Line - text HOME to 741741