The world can often be a cruel and judgmental place. We often allow misconceptions and strong, inaccurate opinions to pass as factual information. We constantly question others’ actions and motives, passing our own evaluations of each other on simple glances or mere labels of. We are all beautiful, uniquely individual humans, though. Every person on this planet has a purpose and a reason for existence… even me.
I may have a lengthy list of mental illnesses that follow me around in my medical charts, but I’m finally starting to learn that I’m so much more than these labels. The truth is, I’m more than my mental illness.
My mental illnesses tell me that I’m incapable. I constantly worry that my efforts are not enough and that I’m inadequate in every aspect of my life. I tremble as I worry about whether or not my boss is satisfied with my work. I cry myself to sleep at night, wondering if I showered my sweet daughters with enough attention and love. I apologize to my family and friends for my perceived shortcomings. I admit to my therapist and psychiatrist that I’m falling short on my recovery goals and treatment expectations.
Is that all I am, though?
The truth is, I’m more than my anxious, troubled mind. I am hardworking and determined, always seeking new knowledge and opportunities to improve the person I currently am. I push myself to do more, try harder, and become better with each and every breath I take. Although I may occasionally fall short of my goals, I’m also doing the best I can… and it shows.
People believe that my mental illness means that I’m manipulative and self-centered, and at times, maybe I am. I demand time and attention, sometimes asking for advice or answers at the least ideal times. I need constant reassurance and validation from those who mean the most, the people whose opinions I truly cherish. I don’t mean to bother people or collect pity; I just haven’t learned to love myself just yet.
But does this make me a monster who is unworthy of friendship and love?
The truth is, I’m more than my instability and fear of abandonment. I’m constantly committed to those I care for; I am fiercely loyal and love unconditionally. I pour my soul into everyone in my life and everything I do . My faith in humanity is unwavering, and I constantly encourage the people I hold in my heart to pursue their passions and reach their full potential. I see that others’ feelings are valid and empathize with their struggles because I care about them just as much (if not more) than I care about myself.
My mental illness often convinces me that my life is hopeless and dark. My mind whispers that I’m a burden and that I constantly let people down. On my bad days, I easily become lost in the storm and resolve that drowning is far easier than swimming to higher ground. I fear that I’ll never fully recover, that I’m beyond help, and that everyone will leave me in the end.
Isn’t there supposed to be sunshine after the rain, though?
The truth is, I’m more than my dark and dreary days. I am full of smiles and laughter, random dances, and silly songs. I provide endless hugs and hopeful messages when depression tries to possess my friends’ hearts and minds. I know that even in those moments that seem so unbearably heartbreaking, I will have a breakthrough. At the end of the day, I am aware that every step I take is towards a life worth living, a life full of hope and love.
Many of us live with mental illness, and although it’s an aspect of our existence, our conditions don’t define us. Remember that you are more than your anxious tics or dark thoughts. Past traumas and current struggles don’t make you any less of a beautiful, amazing person. I’m finally discovering the reality that I’m more than my mental illness, so believe me when I say that you are more than your disorders and labels, too.