Mental Illness and Failure

https://www.healthyplace.com/insight/quotes/quotes-on-mental-health-and-mental-illness

 

I read over this, continued on, then stopped as the end of the quote made it through my “scanning” mentality and into my freaking rib cage, where it proceeded to rattle around and saunter on into my soul with a glass of chocolate milk, a hatchet, and a killer smile painted red (from the blood of my demons, not lipstick).

 

“Your mental illness is not a personal failure.”

NOT

A

PERSONAL

FAILURE

 

…Yeah… Just let that beauty sink in.

Seriously. Take a minute.

 

I don’t think a sentence has ever given me such a pause.

If I get caught in a hurricane, a volcano’s explosive raining lava (like in the movies), and an earth cracking earthquake – all at once – I will not be as shooketh.

And I do not mean to cheapen the gravity of this truth with goofy word-smithery. But this is who I am. And if we’re on the subject of truth, how can I mute my strangeness while trying to communicate the uncommunicable of HOW THIS QUOTE HIT ME IN THE HEAD WITH A COYOTE AND ROADRUNNER SIZED ANVIL and then let me fall down the rabbit hole, forever?

The answer… I cannot.

 

My issues, they are not a personal failure.

This never occurred to me before.

Feeling ashamed to tell the truth, that ‘no’, I’m still not doing okay. I am still struggling. I am still broken and scarring and trying as hard as I can to dig myself out of a hole, only to find that I’m standing in the middle of a desert with a body bag and a knife.

…. This isn’t me failing.

This is me telling the truth.

Trying as hard as I can.

And feeling shame when I can’t just “pull myself up by the bootstraps” and become a mentally stable person.

 

Someone told me I remind them of Eeyore in the mornings when she picks me up for work. She didn’t say it maliciously. She was smiling. She is okay with who I am.

Why can’t I be?

Why do I see myself as a failure because I am not “whole” like other people?

Why do I feel the need to “get over” mental illness the way that people get over a cold?

I don’t have any outward symptoms. Any tell-tale signs of a physical illness. And unlike a sinus infection or bronchitis, I cannot “get over” mental illness and expect God to wipe me clean of the challenge He gave me.

Who knows if it’s a lifelong challenge? I might wake up in three years from now and no longer struggle with mental illness. I’m a believer in miracles. But I’m also a believer in God (or whatever/whoever your Higher Power is) giving us trials. And some of those trials are lifelong.

 

People don’t seem to understand this.

They expect us, those with mental illness, to simply chipper up. To get better and stay better forever. That because we had a good day, a good week, a good month, that we’re “cured” and we won’t struggle with this in the future.

A bad day, a bad week, a bad month, these things aren’t signs of failure or doing worse. They’re symptoms of mental illness.

And guess what?

We understand.

Sure, some of us use it as an excuse to do nothing, to expect nothing of ourselves, and to do nothing but wallow in the pain and expect everyone to disfigure their faces in sorrow and pity and miserate with us. But there are people like that in every walk of life, whether mentally ill or not.

Those people are a personality type. Much different from a passing emotion or coping mechanism or grieving stage. They’re different from the days we need to sit in our pain and feel it. How we need to define how we’ve been victimized before we can let go of being a victim. Or sit, paralyzed by anguish, fear, and stunned apathy at how unaware we were of how hard things would get. Or those days where we need to look at what we’ve been through, what we’re still hurting through, and sit there and hurt in it. Those move, they’re fluid. Mental illness is fluid. People who plant themselves firmly in misery and soak in it permanently, without trying to solve any puzzles in their lives… that’s not mental illness.

 

“Your mental illness is not a personal failure.”

I cannot put into words what this means for me. To me.

I can do everything right. Make all the right decisions. Get into all the healthy situations, atmospheres, in with all the right therapists and doctors and group therapies. But that sometimes doesn’t affect where my level of mental illness is that day.

I cannot keep myself from ever getting a cold by eating healthy, exercising, and taking healthy herbs and micronutrients.

Just as I cannot keep myself from having the unpredictable and uncontrollable symptoms of a mental illness by doing everything to keep my mental, emotional, and spiritual self as healthy as humanly possible.

Only God can heal me of mental illness permanently. And I am not God.

I can only do so much.

And still, I can get a cold.

That doesn’t mean I’ve personally failed.

 

And somehow, I feel shedding the tears that welled up when I read that sentence, is the only form of communication that can describe, paint, encapsulate all that I feel inside when I read it.

I cannot explain it to you.

You must feel it. You must know it.

We must believe that having a mental illness does not measure if we are a successful human being or not. Our challenges do not define us. What we do about them, how we do it, all those details… those are what define us.

 

“Your mental illness is not a personal failure.”

 

https://www.healthyplace.com/insight/quotes/quotes-on-mental-health-and-mental-illness

 

For more quotes on mental illness, check out this page, which is where I scrolled upon this paradigm re-shaper.

Why a Writer? Daphne through the Shadows

 

My friend recently asked me how I decided to become a writer.

I’ve had different answers for that at different times. All of which are true, still.

 

The first thing I thought of was this post, which I wrote two years ago:

Why I Write

 

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It amazes me how much I’ve changed. That post was messy in so many ways. But the basis of the post – those three reasons – hold true. So if you want the answer (or for this post to make sense), go read it. Don’t worry, its short. And if you want to scroll down and just read the three reasons, that’s all you need.

But there’s more to it than that. It’s deeper. Even messier – just, in a different way. More complicated.

If there’s one thing therapy is showing me, it’s how I’ve hidden myself… from myself. It’s kind of like waking up. I’m finding out more about myself moment to moment.

One of the things I’ve learned is how I belittle and cheapen myself to keep truth from feeling so real. I laughed and used humor and made sure nothing really reached my heart – or anyone else’s.

Causes me to come off as air-headed and clueless. Basically, superficial and naive.

It’s a misrepresentation of who I am. For one, I’m a lot darker than I let on. Yes, I’m also the opposite – I watch Scooby-Doo reruns and get giddy over donuts. 😉

I’m happy but I struggle with depression. No one exists in singularity.

My tendency to gloss things over is fake. Happiness and strangeness is not. So that part’s not been fake, I assure you. I just don’t show the darkness or ugliness.

And let’s get something straight. Darkness and depression are two different things. I suppose I’ve been hiding both.

Darkness is balanced by light, and when I stop trying to suppress a certain part of myself, I remember that.

It’s strange to be around so many people and to feel unknown. Stranger yet to feel unknown by myself.

But I’m working on it. I’m finding the more I find, the more joy creeps into my life. Being whole tends to do that.

Any who – back to the question.

 

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How did I decide to be a writer?

I don’t really have a precise answer. I remember being upset and watching the roof of the car, the stars of the early morning sky, and curling up on my side, wishing I was somewhere else. I’d detach and *poof* I’d imagine the most ridiculously amazing things. I was always in my head, somewhere existing beyond reason and rules.

I painted reality with my own overlay of life and vibrancy, beauty and thrills.

I grew up this way. I got upset, felt uncomfortable, got bored, wanted more – I went somewhere else in my head. As a result, I don’t ever remember actually being bored.

I think it simply grew within me as I grew. I remember wanting to be a writer in kindergarten. I don’t really remember much before then at all, except for times I’d imagine myself away.

So it makes the most sense to me, for me to say, I decided to become a writer before I even knew I’d decided. I was really young. That’s all I know. There wasn’t a precise day where I said, “I want to be a writer” and the decision was made and my life was forever changed. No one person or situation inspired me. Nothing suddenly triggered it.

Instead, it just always was. I don’t think I ever really stopped and went, ‘huh, I want to be a writer’.

I just knew I did and I wrote.

 

 

When did you become aware of who you were and what you wanted to become?

Do you hide parts of who you are from yourself or others?

 

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Crying is Not a Weakness

A few years ago, a Cherokee medicine woman shared with me the meaning of white roses and tears.

“We never wipe away our tears; we are not ashamed of them.” She said.

On the Trail of Tears, many of our ancestors were shoved and pushed and made to walk, often times until they died. It is said that when their tears touched the ground, a white rose grew. Others say that the white roses grew to give the mothers strength.

Regardless, we never wipe away our tears. We are not ashamed of them. We do not stop ourselves from crying because of sorrow or joy.

Tears are not shame. They are pain, they are joy, struggles and hopes. We are human and we feel. If we do not feel the urge to hide our smiles, why should we feel it necessary to hide our tears?

I mean, when did human emotion become something we’re supposed to be ashamed of? That doesn’t make any sense to me.

(And just in case you’re wondering, there really are white roses growing along the Trail of Tears.)

 

Ironically, I never cry in public. I’d be too embarrassed. Tears are personal to me. But I no longer consider them something to be ashamed of.

Do you?

 

(And don’t get annoying. I’m talking about sincere tears here, not people who are immature and cry over everything or to manipulate others.)

 

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