The ones who experience the symptoms with us aren't always equipped to support us through them. These issues leave all involved feeling lost and alone. That is something I would like to change. But, how? By removing the shame of mental illness one word at a time. Changing how we speak about our experiences will humanize them ore and stigmatize them less.
It is important to fully know and understand that you are never to blame for having a mental illness. Nor are you the mental illness itself. We are taught that saying we are depressed, anxious, bipolar, or obsessive is acceptable language.
When in truth, no other illness, disease, or chronic condition is ever personified in the same way. Removing harmful language that labels, blames, or criticizes us is the first step in being able to feel more empowered, even though we live with mental illness.
What I learned over years of therapy and from clawing my way out of many dark pits, is to take care of myself by any means necessary. I invested in learning self-care techniques because I am my first line of defense. I always owe it to myself to be kind to and to take care of me. I will always be worthy of self-care.
Part of self-care for me is being honest about my emotions in order to give myself permission to feel them without feeling guilty about them. Having feelings of depression, anxiety, angst, frustration, agitation, or numbness does not make me less than a whole person. It never did.
Secondly, I give myself permission to be vulnerable and honest about what I am experiencing with my loved ones. I used to convince myself that it was too much to burden them with. But, eventually, I realized that my well-being was more important. If I was struggling through a depression or anxiety flare-up, I needed to vocalize that to my husband and to my kids in terms they can handle and understand.
Doing this allows me to let myself off the hook from trying to hold it all together when I obviously cannot. It allows my husband to tell me that it's okay to do nothing and to not have to make decisions. Because decision making only exacerbates the depression and anxiety.
Speaking truth into my experience frees me from going through it alone. It permits me to take as much time ans I need to get past it. It removes the shame and guilt a little bit more. It allows me to see that I am a whole person and not a fragmented depiction of one.
This is something that I want every person with mental illness to experience. So, I will continue to have this conversation to shed light on our struggles and our triumphs.