Mental Illness Does Not Make You Any Less Of A Person

Mental Illness Does Not Make You Any Less Of A Person

Just because you view the world differently and work harder for the same things, it doesn't mean you're any less of a person.
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We shun away from the term "mental illness". We don't want to talk about it, we don't want to recognize it, we don't want to admit that mental illness exists and affects more people than we realize. Unfortunately, because of this, we don't have enough of the proper tools to help individuals with a mental illness, and many times help goes unanswered or slips under other people's awareness.

Mental illness isn't the same for every individual. The signs and symptoms vary, how people cope and react varies, what mental illness(es) each individual has varied, and the severity of each case varies.

People can have one mental illness or several, and people can have one of the most common or most rare cases of a mental illness.

No matter what the mental illness, it does not make someone any less of a person.

Having a mental illness means you view the world in a different, more vivid way. For someone with depression, they view the negative aspects of life more vividly, and because of this, negativity becomes their core focus.

For someone with bipolar, they view both the negative and positive aspects of life more vividly in different, extreme ways thus causing them to gravitate severely between the two emotions as each come and goes. For someone with schizophrenia, they see between the lines and static of the world, and this becomes the main focus in their life as they see and hear things that others cannot.

Having a mental illness is like painting a picture, and everyone paints a picture differently based on our life experience. People with mental illness just paint different, more colorful, more striking and often jumbled pictures.

As someone who suffers from bipolar disorder, my pictures are filled with vivid dark colors, striking and disturbing images from my thoughts which are then painted over with bright swirls of rainbows of colors, almost as soon as the dark colors hit; this painting process goes on repeat.

As someone who suffered from an eating disorder for three years and still has the tendencies to this very day, I paint my own pictures of my struggle with this in their own unique ways. I paint both of these pictures repeatedly, day-to-day, in my own special way.

I have friends with different mental illnesses who paint their own picture in a different way. I see friends with depression paint dark, somber colors filled with splashes of color here and there when they were reminded that sometimes, life isn't so bad.

I have friends with anxiety who paint a whirlwind of pictures in blues and yellows and greys, who can't seem to find a sense of clarity or calm, save here and there when the picture becomes still for a moment and isn't so distressed and blurred. The colors we choose to paint our lives, and the images we choose to paint with them, very, from person to person and mental illness to mental illness.

We all paint different pictures of our mental illnesses because no mental illness is exactly the same.

This is why some medications work for individuals, while others don't or while others don't need medication at all. This is why some people with the same mental illness find themselves being able to function day by day with little to no help from professionals, while others see therapists every week or are hospitalized.

But no matter the case, every mental illness is valid, just like every person is valid.

My mental illnesses vary vastly from friends and family members with mental illness. I may not take medication right now, but I know people who do and need it to function. I see a therapist occasionally, but I know people who see one every week or only once a month or not at all.

I may have attempted suicide before, but I know people who have (successfully or unsuccessfully) or have not attempted or thought about doing so at all. I may have almost been hospitalized for my mental state and/or eating disorder but in the end I was not, but I know people who have been hospitalized. I may be open about my experiences with mental illness, but I know plenty of people who aren't.

Mental illness is never simple. Mental illness can never just be "fixed." Mental illness is something that a person carries with them every day of his or her life.

We learn to cope, we learn to acknowledge how we view the world and try to do something about it. We do the same jobs as people without mental illness and go to school with them, we like the same things, do the same activities, go to the same places. We may have a mental illness, but that doesn't make us any less of who we are.

There are those around us who want to help and can help, but another person can never truly understand what happens and goes on in our heads that affects our everyday lives.

Another person may think we seem "normal" on the outside, but they can't look into our minds and see what's going on.

There's a stigma against mental illness and those with it; people disregard mental illness because it's something we can't see. But just because we can't see it, doesn't mean it's not there. It just makes living harder, but it also makes living more unique and open to more possibilities than those without a mental illness.

Most days, I wish profusely that I didn't have my mental illnesses, but when I remember how I paint my world and the way it has shaped me, I feel at peace. Though it may be hard to live with mental illness, I'm thankful for the way it allows me to see the world.

Mental illness is not something to look down upon. Mental illness is something to be talked about and heard and in a sense, embraced. It makes us who we are, and we shouldn't feel bad for being who we are.

You are no less of a person because you have a mental illness.

Cover Image Credit: Tim Wortman

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If You've Ever Been Called Overly-Emotional Or Too Sensitive, This Is For You

Despite what they have told you, it's a gift.
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Emotional: a word used often nowadays to insult someone for their sensitivity towards a multitude of things.

If you cry happy tears, you're emotional. If you express (even if it's in a healthy way) that something is bothering you, you're sensitive. If your hormones are in a funk and you just happen to be sad one day, you're emotional AND sensitive.

Let me tell you something that goes against everything people have probably ever told you. Being emotional and being sensitive are very, very good things. It's a gift. Your ability to empathize, sympathize, and sensitize yourself to your own situation and to others' situations is a true gift that many people don't possess, therefore many people do not understand.

Never let someone's negativity toward this gift of yours get you down. We are all guilty of bashing something that is unfamiliar to us: something that is different. But take pride in knowing God granted this special gift to you because He believes you will use it to make a difference someday, somehow.

This gift of yours was meant to be utilized. It would not be a part of you if you were not meant to use it. Because of this gift, you will change someone's life someday. You might be the only person that takes a little extra time to listen to someone's struggle when the rest of the world turns their backs.

In a world where a six-figure income is a significant determinant in the career someone pursues, you might be one of the few who decides to donate your time for no income at all. You might be the first friend someone thinks to call when they get good news, simply because they know you will be happy for them. You might be an incredible mother who takes too much time to nurture and raise beautiful children who will one day change the world.

To feel everything with every single part of your being is a truly wonderful thing. You love harder. You smile bigger. You feel more. What a beautiful thing! Could you imagine being the opposite of these things? Insensitive and emotionless?? Both are unhealthy, both aren't nearly as satisfying, and neither will get you anywhere worth going in life.

Imagine how much richer your life is because you love other's so hard. It might mean more heartache, but the reward is always worth the risk. Imagine how much richer your life is because you are overly appreciative of the beauty a simple sunset brings. Imagine how much richer your life is because you can be moved to tears by the lessons of someone else's story.

Embrace every part of who you are and be just that 100%. There will be people who criticize you for the size of your heart. Feel sorry for them. There are people who are dishonest. There are people who are manipulative. There are people who are downright malicious. And the one thing people say to put you down is "you feel too much." Hmm...

Sounds like more of a compliment to me. Just sayin'.

Cover Image Credit: We Heart It

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I Went From Losing Weight To Lifting Weights, And Now I'm In The Best Shape Of My Life

How a change in my fitness goals changed my life.

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I am in the best shape of my life...or at least I think so, and that's what truly matters.

I look in the mirror and feel confident.

I finally feel comfortable wearing crop tops, and I'm even starting to show visible abs. But getting here has been such a difficult journey filled with eating disorders, body dysmorphia, and other physical and mental struggles that hindered my ability to achieve my goals.

I have been on this health and fitness journey for many, many years now. I've been a size 00, a size 12, and every size in between.

Through it all, I have learned so much about myself, as well as fitness and nutrition in general. My biggest takeaway that led me to overcome all these obstacles was learning to let go of my perfectionism. When I'm old, I don't want to look back on my life and realize that I spent it all trying to lose weight. So, I changed my mindset.

My new focus was to be as strong as possible—to lift the heaviest weights, rather than losing the most weight. If you too, want to be in the best shape of your life but have struggled for so long, read my tips below.

1. EAT MORE

I know, it sounds crazy. As women, we are constantly told about diets and cutting calories. If you just want to be skinny, you can do that. But if you want to be strong, you need to eat to be able to put on the muscle.

2. ALLOW YOURSELF TO HAVE CHEAT MEALS

If you have struggled with eating disorders like me, satisfying your cravings will prevent you from having major setbacks.

3. LIFT WEIGHTS

Get your butt off that elliptical and into the weight room.

4. DON'T WORKOUT EVERY DAY

Again, especially if you want to build muscle, you need rest days. These are the days where your muscles are "actually" growing.

5. DON'T RUSH IT

You will not see abs overnight. It takes a long time. But if you want sustainable results, you must treat your body right.

I hope these tips are helpful. With positivity and patience, you can achieve anything.

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