I don’t know why I do this but I can never come up with a New Years resolution before New Year’s Day. It will always come to me at the end of the first fiscal quarter. Last year, around mid January I came up with my oath of transparency and then in February, I had the one about cowardice, of course.
This year’s main New Years resolution is somewhat a spin-off of them both. This year is dedicated to acceptance.
Mental health acceptance.
Yeah, I’m sure you’re tired of talking about it. I’m tired of hearing about it and reading about it. But maybe that’s just because I never accepted that I was affected by it. Or maybe it’s because the mainstream descriptions of mental illness never sounded anything like me.
There’s a stigma, believe it or not, about the kind of person who gets mental illnesses. In fact, you can almost predict who’ll have a mental illness as an adult. I know that I’m guilty of it. By secondary school, I was predicting who would become an angsty young adult plagued with depression. And honestly, I was mostly right.
It seems as though your average person with mental health issues is someone who’s been through a lot, enjoys the transgressive and the anti-norm, and/or tends to be a highly strung individual. Sound anything like you?
Nope. Me neither.
So what of this person then? The person who’s been through nothing major at all, has lived an easy life, does everything by the book, always walks on the path of righteousness, and doesn’t get too fussed over tedious things? If that was who you were at your default setting before mental illness, identifying with the archetype is near impossible. I know it was for me.
I was never an emotional person, always the wisest amongst my peers (sorry, I can’t be bothered to sugarcoat this), and never got involved with things I shouldn’t. I worked hard in school, had a normal childhood, wasn’t exposed to anything devastating or scarring. I was a good girl with a rebellious streak but I mean, who didn’t have a rebellious streak growing up? There was nothing that screamed ‘mental illness’ about me.
And that’s the point. This can happen to anyone. Mental illness isn’t classist or ageist or racist. It doesn’t pick a certain type of person. It picks names out of a hat.
I don’t fit the stereotypical person dealing with mental illness and that’s why it was so hard for me to accept that I had one. I didn’t want to identify with the rest. The people that I strongly identified with were happy-go-lucky, motivated people. They were bubbly and charming, highly productive, disciplined and strong willed. They were deeply religious. And they did not have a mental illness.
For me, accepting that mental illness had caught me in its snares meant losing some of my identity.
So that’s why I’m writing this. For the people who, like me, aren’t your typical candidate for anxiety or depression or a personality disorder. For the people who never expected to be one of those people. For the people who’s egos let them believe it could never happen to them.
It happened to you. Accept it. And recognise that it’s not your fault. It doesn’t speak volumes about the kind of person you are for having it. It doesn’t mean a part of your identity is lost. You can still be the happy guy. You can still be the hard working girl. You can still walk with your old crowd and carry your family’s surname.
And anyone who doesn’t accept you because of it was never an asset to you in the first place. Tell anyone who deems you unworthy because of it that someone that they idolise suffered from a mental illness.
Stop self sabotaging.
Oh, I felt that one in my chest.
Stop self sabotaging.
And to the person unaffected by mental health and who still believes that it can never happen to them, wake up.
Stop treating people with bipolar disorder like they did something to get it.
Stop telling yourself you’re too strong for it to happen to you and the only reason it happened to them was because they were weak.
Because if natural selection said it’s me or it’s you, I would still outlive you.
Your mental illness isn’t your fault and it isn’t who you are. You can continue being who you were before.
Live in Peace,
Anxiety – I mean, Kyra-Ann ईबी