For those of you who didn’t know, May is Mental Health Awareness month. In honor of the last day of that month, I have written this post.
My name is Grace. I am a friend, a girlfriend, a daughter, a sister, an employee, a dog lover, a kind person. I also have seven mental illnesses.
That sounds like a lot. On the one hand, it is. Seven is a lot of mental illnesses. One is a lot of mental illnesses. On the other hand, it is important to remember that mental illnesses are very much related to one another. Sometimes one causes another; sometimes they just go hand-in-hand. I don’t think of my mental illnesses as separate entities, but rather as roots of a tree that spring from each other and cross paths and come from the same basic source.
I live a happy life. I live with the parents who support me, am almost done with college, have a loving boyfriend, work two jobs, maintain friendships all over the country, and have the best ESA in the entire world. Things have been worse for me, many times over the course of my life. I don’t feel like rehashing all my trauma, and I don’t have to do so. Even if I didn’t have suffering and trauma in my past, my mental illnesses would still be valid. Brain chemistry doesn’t care how happy you “should” be.
If there is anything I have learned over the course of my short twenty-three years on this planet, it is these: mental illness is not like a cold. It will most likely be with me my whole life, hopefully with me spending the rest of it in remission. The best I can do is the best anyone can do; I handle it as best I can. Everyone has their cross to bear, and this is mine, so all I can do is carry it with as much grace as possible – and maybe with a bit of good humor.
I have also learned that while there is pain and suffering in the world, much of it senseless, there is so much more that is beautiful and good. We are more attuned to the negative, not because it is more prevalent, but because it is the exception. It affects us so deeply because our innate and automatic assumption is that this world is beautiful, and people are basically good.
So, if you are silently – or even not-so-silently – suffering from mental illness(es), I leave you with this: yes, there is pain and suffering in the world. No, it isn’t fair. But no one ever promised life would be fair. But more important than that is the fact that love is infinite. It does not end, or run out – not true love, anyway. Love is the root of all that is good – the flowers love the sun, which loves them in return. The mother and the offspring love each other. It is true; it is unconditional; it is infinite.
So, love. If you cannot love yourself, try loving others. Try loving the puddle you splash in on a rainy day. Try loving the friend that makes you feel secure. Loving and being loved by others can teach us how to love ourselves. There is always, always, always a reason to love.
Most important of all, remember that you are not alone. You are not alone. You are never, ever alone.
I love you.