I think, in fact I know, that people believe that someone with mental health issues, dealing with something like anxiety, depression or other long term mental health diagnosis, are weak, and broken.
I have had people say it to me. I have had people imply that, not so subtly. The way people react and treat someone who is open and honest about their diagnosis and issues, can be very revealing about what they think and understand about what that person is going through.
You see, I was one of those people too.
I thought that I was weak, and broken, and damaged, and a failure, because of my anxiety.
I thought that having a mental health diagnosis made me somehow second best.
I spent a long time feeling ashamed of the struggle I have been through and the path I continue to walk.
But, as I have walked that path, and reached out, had help, faced some of my demons, dealt with setbacks and relapses, I have come to realise that anxiety doesn’t make me weak.
As a person with anxiety, I wake up every day, and I face a world where emotions and fears are maginifed. Where things that other people don’t even blink about, manifest themselves in my head as mountains to climb. Where coping with social situations and expecations puts so much more pressure on me, that I have to process, deal with, and somehow smile my way through.
Every day, I wake up, and I face the world. I parent, I work, I live my life. I deal with what comes my way, whilst dealing with my mind and the way it warps things that those around me probably don’t understand.
This makes me, frankly, quite strong. Very strong, in fact.
You see, some days, a lot of days, I don’t want to have to face the world and the way my mind works. I want to run away. I want to hide.
But I can’t. So I don’t. I play the game and I walk away at the end of each day, knowing that I have got myself through.
I am also strong because I have realised that MY needs and mental health are important and that it’s ok to look after me.
I have asked for help. I have been honest, even when it has hurt. I have lost friends and I have had family and people supposed to be close to me, not understand and cope. Yet I have still kept going.
Anxiety and seeking help for the bits of my mind that don’t work the way other people’s do, doesn’t make me weak, less than, broken, not worthy.
It has actually made me strong. I choose to speak out. I choose to stand for myself. I will find a way through.
I am not broken. I won’t allow anyone to tell me that, anymore and I will not tell myself that any more, either.