I find it so hard to put into words what mental illness was/is for me. Before I went through it, I never would have fully understood it either, because the problem with trying to understand it when it's not you is that you are thinking about it with a clear mind. And mental illness is anything but a clear mind.
I remember telling my therapist early into postpartum that it felt like I was always wearing a giant heavy cloak made out of chainmail. I couldn't take it off, it followed me everywhere, and it weighed not just on my physical body, but on my heart, my mind, and my energy.
It robbed me of happiness and enjoyment. It constantly lied to me.
Hiding it became a full-time acting gig. If I was feeling down, I would cancel. If I went out, I smiled, wore clean clothes, did my hair, looked presentable. Mental illness doesn't only appear on the faces of the homeless, who wander the street shouting at themselves. It's much, much, closer to home than that.
It’s not always crying. Apathy was my demon. Some days I wished for true sadness, because at least then I’d be feeling an emotion and not be the apathetic robot I felt like.
Two months ago, almost 2 years after my daughter was born I took the terrifying step into my doctor's office and asked for medication. I was doing the "right" things - working out, nutrition, therapy - but it wasn't enough, and I couldn't convince myself anymore that I would eventually grow out of it.
When I shared my story I was met with so much support and many of you shared your own story. Some of you even took that step into the doctor's office the very next week, which I don't think you will ever know how much it meant to me to hear you took action off a post about my messy life.
But still, not more than a week after I opened up, I had someone close to me let me know about some "natural options" out there, so that "when I wanted to get off the medication" I could check out these natural options. I appreciate this person's heart was in the right place. But this is another piece of the stigma that needs to end. Would you tell a diabetic to find a more natural solution than insulin? WTF.
I am not doped up, I am not numb to the world. Quite the opposite - I finally feel awake for the first time in years. I am sad when sad things happen, happy when joyous things happen - the way it should be. Yes, I lose my cool when my daughter asks for something for the 100th time in 5 minutes, but I am also getting SO much more joy with her now.
Medication is not the easy way out. Mental illness does not make you lesser of a person.
You matter. Your story matters. You are worthy of love, and you are loved. Your purpose on this earth is so much greater than you believe it to be. There are people who want to help you, please reach out. And if you're not in it yourself, ask those around you how they're doing. How they're REALLY, doing. Even the ones who appear to have it all together. ESPECIALLY the ones who appear to have it all together.
Let's talk. For real.