My mental health majestic warriors,
May is Mental Health Awareness Month! Did you know that?! If not, that’s your fun fact for the day.
I carry the weight of depression and anxiety with me on a daily basis. At times, it has felt like a burden and a sad excuse for removing myself from situations I did not want to be a part of. I have lost friendships over it. And I am not immune to the stigmas that follow mental illness like a dark shadow.
I am sure that people have talked behind my back, have labeled me, judged me, dissected me all in the name of making sense of me. In reality, deconstructing my “illness” was more for their sake and not my own. I have made a home for my mental illness. I learned more about compassion and forgiveness in the last three years than most people will learn in a lifetime and yet I do not think of this as a pretentious thing. It’s more of a heightened sense of self awareness and the awareness of another’s feelings.
Because most of those dealing with a mental illness are brilliant. Their minds don’t shut up–both a blessing and a curse. At night, we stay up trying to tie up loose ends or solve life’s little equations while telling the monsters in our head to shut up. We run long miles, paint, draw, write. We fuel our passions using our inner demons, obsessive compulsions, and deep thinking. Our perspective has been skewed for the better, allowing us to see and feel things in a different light. It is probably why most of the famed artists, writers, and performers are celebrated for their works–because behind closed doors we feed our beasts with raw, intense emotion disguised as scenic imagery or quick-witted humor.
We’re told we are crazy and I am fine with that because I am crazy. I am crazy about life, about writing, about family, about beautiful music, about literature. I love to the extreme or don’t love at all. If that makes me crazy, then yes, please add that to the list of my quirks. If feeling things intensely makes me insane, then let me dance in this intensity rather than not feel at all.
Because battling depression has opened new doors. It has given me the strength to start this blog. It has brought me to my yoga mat and given me immense self-love and taught me how to truly love myself, cellulite and all. It has showed me that everyone is flawed, willing to embrace it or ignore it–well, that’s up to them. It has taken me to where sand meets ocean, ocean meets horizon, and all I can see is everything I am capable of doing.
And it has been a struggle. To shake off hurtful comments or brush off belittlement are hard things to get good at. But when we master those two abilities, we are better for it in the long-run. We learn the art of accepting constructive criticism using coping strategies and shirking the blatantly harsh comments coming from the peanut gallery. Because they exist and we exist and somehow we need to learn to coexist.
Let this month and every month beyond May be the month you will not give up, that you will pride yourself on how far you’ve come and will continue to go. Let your mental illness be a part of you but not the defining trait of your person. You are more than your stigma. I am more than my stigma. United we are the faces that show how the “mentally ill” thrive instead of hide.