So I suffer from a chronic mental illness.
Some mental disabilities, like many physical disabilities, are really tricky because you cannot actually “see” it in someone else, and so may never know someone (close to you or those strangers you interact with every day) needs help unless they feel comfortable sharing that part of their life with you (like what I’m doing right here).
It’s something I’ve struggled with all my life but which I’ve only very recently begun receiving professional help coping with & treating. It has taken me almost 2 decades to make this decision of self-love because one of the many symptoms of my illness actually works against me by preventing me from getting help, by not viewing my pain as valid, real or legitimate enough to think I am worthy to feel better.
But it’s also taken this long because of most of our society, especially mainstream media, treating any degree of mental illness with such awful stigma & fear & shaming – ranging from calling us attention-seekers; to telling us to “get over it” or some other quick fix solution; to calls for more policing. it’s really fucking scary to think that other people might treat you the way you fear they might, the way you sometimes think you sometimes deserve.
And while I have been really privileged to have loving family & friends (and in many other ways too), there are many folks who don’t have this and so are repeatedly discouraged from ever vocalizing their wants and needs for support and understanding.
They can be people living on the streets asking for change or they can be people of status and privilege.
Since I’ve collected the nerve to be more honest with others and myself about my illness, I have gotten some incredible clarity about myself
– who I was, who I am, who I’m becoming.
I’m learning to see that asking for help – help with my patterns of self-abuse and self-harming (emotional & physical), and my struggles with suicide – have been an act of courage, hope, and love for myself.
I’m learning that while acknowledging my disability as a part of who I am, it – like everything else in my life – is not the defining characteristic of my identity & never will. The events of life are not what define us – how we preserve in the events of life is what defines us.
I’m learning that in my career working with people who live with diverse forms of disabilities, I can use my experiences with the low-low-points of my life as means to better empathize and identify with the people I want to help understand and empower while I’m here and able to do so.
And I’m learning that the only constant is change – that all feelings & situations are temporary and pass – and so that my goal is not to chase and capture happiness but rather learn to embrace the experience of the unknown, the uncertainty and the wandering as unending cycles of growth, death & rebirths.
Finally, I want to say that I have so much love & respect for the people who are giving their time to be on the suicide hotlines. I cannot imagine how hard of a job that has to be to answer those calls, but I think it helped save my life and I will not ever forget it.
And so if you’ve read this far, I’m hoping you’ll consider reviewing the resources that are available to everyone.
If you are sick, please don’t wait until it gets worse before getting help.
If you’re not sick, then please read up so you can be of help for those who are too sick to help themselves.
Thanks in advance.