Self Esteem: Mental Illness & Me

Self Esteem: Mental Illness & MeMental illness is often invisible. The first week of October was deemed Mental Illness Awareness week. As many of you know, one of my life goals is to eradicate the stigma that can accompany mental illness. When a person has to take medicine to regulate blood sugar, we get that. When a person has had a stroke and needs physical therapy to regain use of extremities, we understand that. However, some don’t understand that our brain can fall ill as well. It may mean taking medicine for a chemical imbalance or going to talk therapy. How is that any different? Simply put, it isn’t!

 I feel we have all come a long way in understanding mental illness but I also feel we can always learn more. I’d like to share with you some of the insights I have gained from being mentally ill…
 There is absolutely NO SHAME in having a mental illness. Having a mental illness can actually make you stronger. You feel things much more intensely than the average person. You see things from a completely different perspective. You have thought after thought after thought (some positive, but most not).

 Having a mental illness makes you fabulously incredible! You wake up each morning, feeling dread and yet you go on. You conceal your pain, moment by moment. Throughout your day, you feel insecure yet you face others with a smile. At times, you are drowning in your own tears but you find the strength to resuscitate yourself. You don’t look sick but you feel it every single day. But you get up and get on with your day, just like everyone else. The average person can not do that! You have so many things to do in the run of your day and you do it all while fighting through the voices in your head that tell you can’t, you aren’t good enough, you suck, nobody likes you and on and on and on. You fight to live another day.

Mental illness is different for everyone. In my experience, people are very understanding and compassionate about mental illness for about three days, then they wonder why you’re not feeling better. Each of us have our struggles; whether they be physical, mental or spiritual. I believe we are more understanding of physical illness because we can see it. Someone broke their arm, they have a cast…that must’ve hurt or someone has had a heart attack and now has a scar down the center of their chest from open heart surgery. The scars from a mental illness may not show but they are there nonetheless.  

 Many of us living with a mental illness are great at hide-n-seek. We hide our symptoms while trying to seek answers as to why we feel this way.  Am I losing my mind? How will I explain to my boss that I can’t get out of bed again today?
 We are an elite group of over thinkers, worriers, and perfectionists. I’m not suggesting that you join the club, I only ask that you try to understand us a bit better.