October is the time of many mental illness awareness campaigns. This one month of the year, a small (but growing) fraction of those affected by mental illness – usually shamefully hidden – will raise their hands and say “me too.”
Those brave enough to stand and bare the most guarded pieces of their identity to friends, acquaintances and strangers this month should be applauded, respected and admired.
I am a survivor of mental illness.
So, this October, instead of standing in the crowd in support of the awareness movement, I stand with trembling knees before you and take my place in it. What I’d like to say is this:
If you know the true depths of depression, if you live with the crippling limitations of anxiety, if you ride the uncontrollable roller coaster of emotional dysregulation – me too.
If you’ve been visited in your most hopeless moments by the voice that convinces you that the world and those you love would be better off without you – me too.
If sometimes at the end of your day, you lay your exhausted body and nervous system down and plead for rest, but are denied it by a relentless, insomniac brain – me too.
If some days you’re unable to leave the house, or leave your bed, or drive, or answer the door or the phone – me too.
If sometimes that means letting someone down and/or missing out on experiences you were looking forward to – me too.
If you have built a repertoire of excuses and cover stories to disguise your struggles, only to live with the heavy blanket of guilt you stitch with every use – me too.
If you live your entire life desperately attempting to prove to the world and to yourself that you are good enough, and if those attempts are sometimes misinterpreted by others – me too.
If your greatest fears in life are that those you love will suffer for your illness and that the world will learn your secret – me too.
And if you have watched this conversation about mental illness grow and felt grateful for it but never strong enough to join in – me too.