May is Mental Health Awareness Month… and I’m here to talk about heroes… and not the kind that wears capes.
Mental Health Awareness Month is not just about talking about the diseases that plague the minds of many (including yours truly.) Mental Health Awareness Month is not only about attempting to break the age-old stigma around mental health disorders and their effects on the survivors and their families. Mental Health Awareness Month is about saving lives. It’s about encouraging survivors and treating them like the real heroes that they are.
As someone with mental illness, I can personally relate to many of you who may be reading this article and being like “well I don’t feel like much of a hero.”
I don’t feel like a hero most days either… I’m like you, going through life sometimes still trying to find motivation to get out of bed. However, I want to tell you right now that if you live with ANY mental illness- depression, anxiety, eating disorders, addiction, or any other mental illness then you ARE a hero, and don’t let anyone tell you any different.
You are a fighter, plain and simple. It’s unfair to act as though you are anything but that.
People who don’t have mental illness don’t understand how it feels to live inside our minds. They’ll never understand what it’s like to lay in bed until 2 pm (or later… yes, we’re all guilty) waiting for a real reason to get up in the morning. Without a reason, we struggle to even breathe, much less get up to wash our hair and brush our teeth, get dressed, eat, and more. So every day that you get up and do those things… one or all… YOU are a fighter, and YOU are a hero.
But you are not a loser or weak if you decide that “today is not your day.”
In the famous words of Abby Lee Miller from her short series, Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition, if “today is not your day” then you are still a fighter; you are still strong, and you are still worthy of trying again tomorrow.
Mental illness isn’t one size fits all.
It’s also not the same every single day- if it was, then we’d have it all figured out by now. If you can’t make yourself get out of bed or eat that last bite of your sandwich, then that doesn’t make you a failure. That makes you human, and that’s okay because that’s what you are. I don’t expect you to be perfect, and neither should ANYONE else. So you do you today and everyday… no matter what “you” can do today, tomorrow, or any other day.
Mental illness is real, and I refuse to settle for it remains a stigma.
People who don’t battle mental illness will never understand what it’s like to live under the stigma that if you have a mental health condition that you are crazy. They will never know how crushing that can be to someone who already struggles with low self-esteem thanks to those killer voices in your head there to remind you that “you’re not worthy.” (Those are lies… you shouldn’t believe them EVER.)
So today, I stand up and say that I’m not okay being looked at as someone who’s crazy. I refuse to allow my mental illness to be something that holds me back, and I refuse to allow my illness to be swept under the rug because it’s something people are afraid to talk about.
Mental Health Awareness Month is what you make it, and I challenge you to make it about you because you deserve it.
When you have mental illness, it’s easy to let the world go by and hide behind the scenes. However; YOU are a person, and even if you don’t like being in the spotlight I challenge you to give yourself a break.
Splurge on yourself, take yourself out for ice cream, or go see that new movie that you’ve been dying to see. You deserve to be happy.
You deserve to live your life to the fullest, and during Mental Health Awareness Month, I dare you to be your best self; live your best life, and prove to others that you are not down because you have a mental illness, but instead, you are stronger, a fighter, and a WINNER.
Love yourself this month and every month; I challenge you.