I have mental illnesses but that doesn’t mean that I am mentally weak.
This post has been sitting in my working posts folder for over a month because I truly cannot come up with any sort of standard witty way to write it. However, I think that it needs to be said. No- it needs to be shouted from the rooftops.
It is always inevitable… We get on the topic of mental health and people who have been lucky enough to never struggle with their mental health say something like, “when did society become so mentally weak?”
Even being in the military, I have heard other people say something similar like, “when did we start letting mentally weak people in the military?”
Well, let me tell you something.
I have been diagnosed by a medical professional with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Major Depressive Disorder. I have mental illnesses that I take medication for but I am not weak.
Having GAD and depression means my mind is always at war.
Anyone who struggles with both anxiety and depression knows what I mean. Anxiety tells me one thing while depression tells me something else. Depression makes me want to stay in bed while anxiety makes me want to get up and get moving because if I don’t, I will disappoint everyone around me.
Depression tells me that I don’t have the energy to clean the house but anxiety tells me that “a good wife would clean the house while her husband works fulltime.”
Depression tells me to stay home and be antisocial while anxiety tells me to go out and be social or else nobody will like me.
What I am trying to say here is that it takes a lot of strength to ignore what my illnesses are telling me and just be… me.
With medication and therapy, I can cope with anything.
When we moved to Texas, I was not in therapy and I was weaning off of medication. I had absolutely no clue how to cope with all of the life changes that move brought. I dealt with all of the change in a terrible way and that is how I was also diagnosed with an adjustment disorder. Through therapy, I learned how to cope with life changes and now I have the strength to do so.
This move to south Florida has obviously been an even bigger life change, but using the tools I learned in therapy I have been able to make sure that I don’t resist the adjustment like I was doing back in Del Rio.
Extreme change may sometimes make me uncomfortable, but I don’t shut down anymore like I used to. I can deal with anything life throws my way and given everything that I have been through the last six months or so, I think I have proved that!
I’m considered high-functioning, but I am strong enough to know when I need to take a break.
I am a little different than others who struggle with mental illness because I am high-functioning. I show up to work on time, I am near-perfect at everything I do, and I am a perfectionist. While these may not seem like bad things, they are for someone with a mental illness. People who are high-functioning with anxiety and depression tend to not know when to stop and they tend to ignore all of the signs that say they need a break. I can tell when I am in need of a break and some sort of self-care. It has not been easy, but I have learned how to take a day off and show myself some love.
Above all, I know who I am and I am unapologetically me.
It has taken me a long time to figure out what kind of person I truly am versus who others wanted me to be. Now that I know what kind of person I am and I have been focusing on my mental health, I am not afraid to be myself. I used to be concerned with how people would like me and now I have more of a mindset of if they don’t like me, then it’s not my problem.
I am not sure where this whole “people with mental illness are weak” thing came from, but I think that it definitely needs to stop because many of the strongest people I know have a mental illness!
What do you define as mentally weak anyways? I think it depends on the person, but for me, it is someone who molds themselves into someone that everyone else will like instead of just being themselves. It is someone who relies on others for their happiness instead of relying on themself for happiness.
Regardless of your answer to that question, it is time to stop considering those of us with mental illness as weak.
I wear a lot of hats: NASM Certified Personal Trainer, Weight Loss Specialist, and Fitness Nutrition Specialist. A writer with a B.A. in English and Professional Writing. A fur mom and a wife. A mental health advocate and a septic shock survivor. An Airman and an athlete. I live in South Florida and am in love with the ocean. People can typically find me either in the gym or at home, writing or reading.