If you are open about your diagnosis of mental illness, most likely you are faced with more negative feedback than positive. We are labeled as damaged goods. When I was diagnosed with bipolar 2 disorder, there were no words of encouragement or pamphlet that taught me how to handle stigma or love myself. I was set up for failure, and I know many of you feel the same way. The following blog post is what every person with a mental illness needs to hear. It’s the truth that we are kept from acknowledging.
You are not stigma.
Self-stigma is when you are aware of the stereotypes that exist and apply it to one’s self. The negative misconceptions about people with mental illness are so heavily present in our society that it can influence our self-perception. We cannot control how the public views those of us living with a mental illness, but we can control the way we see ourselves. You are not stigma and do not allow ignorance to persuade you to believe otherwise.
It’s okay to not be okay.
You are human, and it’s okay to not be okay sometimes. It’s okay to feel broken or lost. There is no shame in feeling emotions deeply. Everyone faces challenges and experiences periods of deep-rooted depression or darkness. Those of us living with a mental illness feel ashamed and guilty for experiencing depression or anxiety, but we shouldn’t beat ourselves down. Express your emotions in a way that makes you feel safe and always remember it’s okay to not be okay.
You are not unlovable because you live with a mental illness.
Mental illness does not make us unlovable individuals. We have so much to offer another person, but it’s difficult to comprehend this when our condition is used as a platform for blame. Whether you have a mental illness or not, no one is perfect. We all face rejection in love, and every romantic relationship is confronted with challenges. We should not feel obligated to blame our mental illness. You are not unlovable, and anyone that makes you feel undeserving of love should not be in your life.
You deserve to be happy.
When you live with a mental illness, you question everything about yourself. We act like a bully inside of our own head. It’s important you remind yourself on a daily basis that you deserve to be happy. Everyone’s route to happiness is different, and you should not feel ashamed for doing things that add joy to your life. Do what makes you happy, and do not let anyone stop you, because at the end of the day they do not walk in your shoes. Other people do not have the right to determine our self-worth and happiness.
You are different, and that’s the most beautiful part about you.
You are capable of contributing great things to society and those around you. Our empathy and relentless search for depth give us a unique perspective on the world. Other people may have difficulty understanding the way our mind works, but their unwillingness to listen is not our problem. You are not wrong just because you think and feel differently than others. You are not weird or an outcast; you are brilliant and beautiful.
Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do. -Steve Jobs