I'm Mya, and I have Type 2 Bipolar Depression and an anxiety disorder. You're probably expecting me to say something now about how these things don't define me and how they're just something I deal with, but that's not the case. I am mentally ill and mental illness is a part of my identity, and I have finally come to term with that. Not everyone feels the way I do, and I know that, and that is okay. However, for me, mental illness is a part of who I am, and that is okay too.

For a long time, having mental illness was something I didn't want to talk about. People close to me knew I struggled, but I never shared the full story. I didn't like admitting just how hard it was. It was especially hard for me to talk about with new people, which probably didn't help when I had to cancel plans last minute because I couldn't get out of bed. This year, once I started talking about my mental illness and explaining to people how it impacts my lifestyle and the way my brain works, it became a lot easier for me to accept that I am mentally ill, and that doesn't mean there's anything wrong with me.

My mental illness impacts every single thing I do. From the moment I wake up in the morning until I go to sleep, the effects are there. I take medication, so the effects are regulated and lessened, but life isn't a cake walk because of it. People will try and help, telling me things like "there's nothing to be scared of" or "it's going to be okay, don't worry". It helps in the sense that there's someone there for me and I can tell they care, but I'm also always going to plan my day down to the minute because I get anxious about forgetting things. However, knowing these effects helps me cope. I can be proactive and know what is going to be harder for me and find ways to adapt.

Accepting mental illness as a part of my identity has, most importantly, helped me cope with the fact that it is not going away. My mental illness is all chemical and it is going to impact me every day for the rest of my life. Before, I would try to tell myself that my feelings were temporary. I would try to tell myself I just need to get through this day, this week, or this year and then it would be all over and I'd be happy. But that isn't the case. Mental illness is a part of me and accepting that has only helped me to focus on the actual problems and triggers as opposed to "waiting it out".

I know not everyone feels the same way about their mental illness. I know some people consider it to be a minor aspect of their lives that they have to deal with, but I don't think it's a bad thing either for me to identify with being bipolar and having anxiety. Everyone's experience is different but for me, accepting mental illness has helped me stop denying its presence and start working to move forward, despite it.