There's No Magic Pill
Mental health is a big scary word, because just like physical health, it isn’t linear, it isn’t a one size fit all. It isn’t a catch phrase, a one-time solution or a quick fix. It isn’t taboo, it isn’t a weakness, it isn’t for attention, it isn’t shameful. But here’s what it actually is : it is emotions, it is resilience, it is a mix of luck and biology, it is trauma and self-esteem, it is unique, it is inconsistent but always there, it is psychological and physical symptoms. It is more than stress, it can be an illness, it is struggles, it is hope. It can be abuse or invalidation, it is self-care and radical acceptance. It is dreams and insecurities. Everyone has a mental health...Let me repeat that again. Everyone has a mental health but not everyone has a mental illness.
Someone can get sick without getting ill right? It’s the same damn thing for you mental health. Sometimes you can heal that illness, other times you can’t.
The brain is an organ too, and any organs can have malfunctions or injuries. It isn’t all a question of perspectives, of efforts or faith. You can believe all you want, sometimes it’s just not enough. You need professional help and it’s difficult to manage it. That is okay.
Being sad doesn’t mean you are depressed, just like being depressed doesn’t mean you are sad. Being impulsive and having mood swings doesn’t mean you have a personality disorder, not liking being in crowds doesn’t mean you have social anxiety, being on a diet doesn’t mean you will have an eating disorder, obsessing over numbers or cleanness doesn’t mean you have OCD. A mental illness is about intensity, duration (3-6 weeks consecutives depending on the illness) and the impact it has on your life, on your daily life. Some people have mental illnesses and are functional, while others aren’t. Some people are physically ill and are functional, while others aren’t. Does it make one illness more valid than the other?
We all have difficult times, rough patches. Want to know a secret? The best way to get through it is with coping skills and a good support system. There’s no magic pill (but it can really help a great deal for some). Recovery is not easy, not everyone will understands that sadly. What’s important is that you do your best with what you have. Some days taking a shower is an accomplishment while other times it’s going to work for a full week, giving back a school project in time or going out with friends, and yes even doing self-care such as going to your psy appointment or painting. Whatever that is, be proud of it. You put effort, you tried. You gave it your best shot with the energy that you had. That my darling, is remarkable.
Just like your physical illness affects your mood and psychological state, your mental illness can influence your physical body. I’m tired isn’t always about needing sleep, I’m ‘hungry’ isn’t always about needing food, I’m anxious isn’t always about being scared or nervous.
You can have a mental illness and be in chronic pain, having difficulty doing simple tasks, where everything feels out of control. Just like you can have a mental illness and have a good month, thriving in every aspects of your life. That’s the thing, a mental illness can be manageable...I see it as being just a little bit more vulnerable. It’s easier to lose that balance. Little things set you off emotionally/psychologically more easily.
Some people can run a marathon in 5 hours while others can only do it in a couple of days because they can’t stand on their feet for too long without being in excruciating pain. Same thing for a mental illness, sometimes we just need more breaks than others. Sometimes we just need more support than others. It doesn’t mean we can’t do it. It doesn’t make us different or inadequate.
And if you have a mental illness and you’re doing great, having a ‘normal’ life, I am proud of you. Just remember do not forget to take care of yourself, that’s when it’s easy to fall back into old pattern. Be grateful for what you have and be proud of how far you’ve come. Life is like a roller coaster sometimes. There’s ups and downs. Don’t give up, get back up.
And if you are struggling with a mental illness and just living is difficult, I am proud of you. It’s exhausting fighting your own brain. Just remember do not forget to take care of yourself, that’s what keeps you above the water. You survived everything so far, you can do it again. You deserve the best, even if you don’t believe it. Trust me.
PS. I love you (in case no one told you that today)