“Thank you for making X about you.”
This is something that people with mental illness hear A LOT. With a physical disability/illness/disorder, etc., people believe you. They can SEE it. So, it’s okay if you sleep in until 1pm, and your life only consists of doctor appointments and minimal activity. That’s not selfish.
But for some reason, however, it IS selfish if you have a mental illness. If you are unable to attend an event because anxiety suddenly takes over your body or depression makes you unable to feel, people just expect you to get over it and STOP BEING SO SELFISH.
PSA: I am NOT selfish.
I am brave. I am fighting every minute of every day just to make it through to the next. I don’t expect you to understand, but it would be decent of you just to listen. To treat me with respect. To make me feel like I matter–regardless of whether I attend an event or manage to pass as normative that day.
I have anxiety, depression, and an eating disorder. I am mentally ill. I am not ashamed of it, but you make me ashamed of me when you call me selfish or dramatic.
Mental illness is real.
I’m tired of having to repeat this over and over, and some days I consider just cutting off all relationships with people who are not mentally ill (WE are the sane ones). It is impossible for you to know what it’s like in my mind-body, and it’s really hard to describe it. I do not choose to have these disorders. It is not “giving in” to them when I have a spell. It just means that I’m fighting extra hard just to make it through the day. And, if you can’t handle that, it’s okay, but just walk away rather than make me feel worse than I already do.
I’m at the point in my life that I only want people in it who accept me as me, who aren’t holding out for me to be someone else (or “healed”) cause that isn’t going to happen, and it isn’t healthy for me to live with that kind of mindset.
Coming home to Virginia has been such a whirlwind this time. Sleeping in my old room. Sitting here at my old desk. Running into old friends. Sorting through old photographs. Talking about memories (some good, a lot of bad) from my tumultuous teenage years.
I spent so many years trying to be a specific “someone” because that’s what society and certain people in my life deemed valuable.
This is me. At 29 I feel more confident and certain and spiritually-sound than I ever have before.
Jesus loves me.
And on the crappiest of days, this truth, this relationship, this promise of grace, is what gets me through.
If you have a story about mental illness—whether personal or concerning a loved one—please consider sharing your experience. Even if you aren’t at a place yet where you feel comfortable disclosing your name, the church body needs your voice. Let’s shine a light on the darkness, together.