I’m trapped. Trapped in my own mind. And the worst part is, nobody knows it.
After years of practice, I’ve mastered the art of hiding how much it hurts. I’m an expert at smiles. I’m probably the last person you’d ever expect to be struggling with this. But I here I am. I’m part of the one in five affected by this in Canada. Mental Illness.
Now that you know my little secret, you might judge me. Most people do. They decrease the severity of my illness. They say I’m weak or lazy. But those people have never walked in my shoes. They’ve never had to choose to fight every morning, choose to be happy despite the darkness or pushed themselves beyond measure to achieve their dreams. I go to war every day to be who I am. It’s hard, but I still do it. Because I’m a fighter. I don’t give up. I am strong.
Mental illness is not a choice. It’s an illness. What makes it hard is that no one knows you’re suffering from it, because they can’t see it. People deal with it in different ways. Everyone copes differently. Talking about it with others, in a safe environment free of judgement, can help to remove some of the isolation that makes this illness so terrible.
In my personal experience, writing about my feelings and sharing my story with others has been incredibly helpful and healing. I found that by talking with others about my own struggles with mental health, others felt safe to open up about their own journeys. Together we are stronger.
By talking about what we struggle with, it can help others understand it better. It opens up a conversation that leads to more acceptance.
Often when we are in a crisis, and in the depth of mental illness, we don’t even know what we need. Sometimes we isolate ourselves, in shame, or guilt or just don’t want to be around others when we don’t feel our best selves. Unfortunately, mental illness is not a bad phase that goes away after a couple of days. If we don’t speak up or learn methods to cope with it, it can swallow us whole.
We are more than our mental illness. We are stronger than our struggles. And so much more than our labels.
Don’t hide away from who you are. Be you. You’re perfect the way you are.