Wednesday, October 11, 2017

What Mental Illness Is Not

I've thought of a lot of different ways to write this post. Should I write it all, how do I format it, etc etc... the questions were running through my head in a way that I realized, later than I should have, was anxiety. Anxiety affects my life in tiny little ways all the time.

The subject of mental illness used to be so taboo that it was completely swept under the rug, & in extreme cases people with the illness were just locked in a mental hospital, deemed to difficult too deal with. Even though there is still a stigma attached today, we are becoming increasingly more open on the topic, which is incredible to me. The more we talk about it, the more normalized it will become. The more likely people will be to get help when necessary & they are less likely to feel alone.

However, I've noticed that with this newfound sense of openness has come casualness. Phrases like 'I'm so depressed’ & ‘my ocd is kicking in’ have become commonplace and while it's great that the stigma is going away, we shouldn’t just toss those words around like an empty starbucks cup.

There must be a happy medium somewhere, right?

So in honor of world mental health day, here is what mental illness is not:

1// It's not a personality indicator. Maybe this one is more for me, because I find myself wearing the identifier ANXIETY on my chest like Hester Prynn donned the A that stood for something else. Don't get me wrong, it's good to be able to joke about your mental state & not let it get the best of you. (or at least pretend it doesn't.) But it's not our entire identity, even though most times it feels like it takes up our whole life. You are so much more than any illness.

2// It's not an excuse to be a sh*t person, or to treat people like they're disposable. We still know right from wrong. Never let the phrase 'it's not me, it's my illness,' slip from your vocabulary. Own your mistakes and learn from them.

3// It's not fun. It's not a cute, quirky thing worthy of desire. It's ugly and leaves a taste with which I equate to how week old trash smells.

It's tear-stained pillows and mascara-streaked cheeks, messages left on read because you feel too ill to respond, laying on the bathroom floor, isolation, fear, anger.

I say all this to say, it's okay to not be okay. Know yourself enough to know if you need help, & please, for the love of everything, stop saying OCD if you do not have OCD. (I'm looking at you, khloe k)


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