Thursday, August 18, 2016

It's Not You, It's Them.

I spend a lot of time wishing my brain worked like other people's. I wish it was a normal brain. A mainstream brain. A brain that doesn't over-think everything. A brain that doesn't see as much pain in the world as mine does.

I spend an equally large chunk of my time wishing my heart worked like other people's. I wish it was a normal heart. I wish it was a heart that didn't bleed so much. A heart that didn't break so much. A heart that didn't hurt as much as mine does.

I wish I knew where I began and where my mental illnesses stopped. How much of me is depression? How much of me is C-PTSD? What would life be like without them? What percentage of me wouldn't exist of those issues didn't exist in me? What would I be like? 

I would be so much more confident. So much less obsessive. I would be so much more normal. So much less weird. I would feel so much lighter. I wouldn't feel like my whole body is made out of lead. I would have so much more peace. So much less pain. The self-hate would go away, and maybe, just maybe, I would be level. Stable. Still. Maybe, just maybe, that inner voice that tells me how much the world hates me, would instead tell me how much the world needs me. Maybe I wouldn't feel like a burden to my husband who feels powerless to help me out of the dark place. Maybe I would be more present. Less neurotic. Maybe I would be different… better, even.

Is this you? Do you do this to yourself? Do you also wish you didn't care too much, feel too much, or cry too much? Maybe you have depression. Maybe you have anxiety. This world labels you as mentally ill. And that's a tough pill to swallow, pun intended. You don't want to be mentally ill. The words "mental" and "illness" together are associated with mass shootings, violence, padded rooms, loud screams in some forgotten ward where patients are sedated and restrained. That association is the stigma. And that stigma makes you think even less of yourself. And you don't need any help thinking less of yourself. Am I right?

So let's take those words away for a sec, K? Let's not call you mentally ill. Let's call you mentally different. Isn't that better? "Illness" implies a deficiency, or even brokenness. "Different" implies uniqueness. You are mentally different. Not mainstream. You are special. 

Maybe… just maybe… being mentally different {like you} is not altogether bad. Parts of it are bad, I get that. Believe me, I do. The struggle is bad because it's hard. The hard almost consumes you. Maybe there already has been a close call to the struggle consuming you. Maybe the strugglebus hit you so hard you just wanted to lay there and die. That struggle is a fire that burned slowly and steadily, eating away at parts of you until you almost burned to the ground. 

--But-- maybe that same fire that almost consumed you is exactly what you'll use to light up the world. Maybe you'll set the world on fire with what makes you so unique. 

You'll love people too hard. You'll help people. You'll advocate for causes. You'll create beauty. You'll create art. You'll create history. Your mind will be turbulent, but your works will be mighty. Your heart will break, but the light that shines through the cracks will brighten the world for others. The world will tell you that you are too fragile, but you'll use that tenderness to pour out buckets of love. You won't want anyone to feel that sadness that you feel, so no one will work harder than you to bring joy to the world. There will be times that you need saving, but there will be times that you save the world right back. This world NEEDS people like you. This world NEEDS the mentally different. This world NEEDS people who show up and care too much.

So, when the world tells you that you are defective, high-maintainence, emotional, ridiculous, a burden, a drama-queen, frustrating, maddening, selfish, a whiner, or someone who just wallows…. If this world tells you that you would be better if you'd take up jogging, get a new haircut, eat better, take more vitamins, get out more, or if you'd just suck it up, buttercup… Just remember, it's not you… It's them. You have so many gifts that come with being mentally different--the world just labels you as mentally ill, or a stigmatized outcast. 

It's crazy hard being mentally different, but the world needs you. The mentally different are the poets, the healers, the history makers, the world changers…. If someone tries to tell you that you are defective or broken beyond repair, it's not you, it's them

Note: This post in no way suggests that you shouldn't seek help for mental "differences". This post is solely meant to reduce the stigma of those mental differences. If you are struggling, seek help with a mental health professional. Don't suffer alone so that the fire consumes you.  The national suicide prevention hotline is 1-800-273-TALK. The line is always open.

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