Words by Anonymous | Age 20
What mental illness(es) are you currently living with?
Depression, anxiety and PTSD.
What’s one thing you want others to know about your mental illness?
I’m not lazy. My failure to achieve everything I should be able to is not out of laziness. I am not forgetful because I haven’t completed the simple tasks I know I must. Rather, the anxiety that accompanies these tasks manifests in debilitating ways. I am not lazy because of the sheer amount of time spent in my bed, but I am incapable of facing the day. At one point in my life I woke up eager to challenge myself, and was full of curiosity surrounding the excitements that the day may entail. Now, I awake after limited sleep with an ache and with feelings of angst for having to face reality. My approach to the day is a matter of simply getting by. There is no desire to push the boundaries. Behind my ‘lazy’ front is a thought process far more complex than you can imagine.
What’s one thing you’re seeking to unlearn about the mental illness(es) you live with?
That I am incapable. When I believe this it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and I shy away from every opportunity. This scenario of me filling in these boxes is a major step for me. My conception that I am incapable renders me avoiding all things that are not absolutely necessary. I assume I cannot do things due to my mental illness. I wish to unlearn this, as I have often accidentally and sometimes purposefully demonstrated that I am capable.
What’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone who loves a person living with a mental illness, and wants to support them?
Be gentle and patient. Some days are worse than others. Do not shame them in any way for seeking professional help or even considering medication. You may not be able to comprehend this experience and thus, the way you react to your own ‘down’ moods is not necessarily appropriate in this case. If they want to cry, let them and hold them and give them a safe space to release this emotion. Don’t try and force them to avoid their emotions and rally them up to “pull [themselves] together.” This is not always easy. I can promise you that we are trying, and the fact that you are trying is the most reassuring thing.
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ABOUT THE SERIES
There’s someone that needs to hear that mental illness doesn’t define us. There’s a lot of noise out there about who we are and what we’re capable of. But, we get to speak for ourselves. That’s why this series exists. It’s a small but meaningful addition to Mental Health Awareness Month. Storytelling can break chains and make us feel less alone. Our truths can help others see the other side of a thing, of a person. Our stories can help someone feel a little more empowered, and a little more hopeful. Each series storyteller was brave enough to share a piece of their truth.
To view more stories from the series, visit the series homepage.