The picture on the left is me, with my make up on. Looks like I’m doing okay, right? If you saw me on the street you may smile at me. Hey, you might even think I look sweet. The picture on the right is also me (plus eeyore my teddy!). But on the right I look visibly upset and you can see that I have been crying. In both of these pictures there is one common factor: I have a mental illness. It maybe more apparent on the second picture that I’m struggling because I am visibly upset, which is not something I often show to the outside world. More often than not it’s the first picture, with my make up on and a smile (or more so a pout!) on my face that I show the world.
I am, as are the majority of the people I know who have a mental illness very good at hiding it, hiding it from the world, work colleagues, loved ones, anyone who we all come into contact with. The question is, why do we do this? The truth is it is easier for us to put on our masks and pretend to the world that we are okay. Why is it than when someone asks us if we are okay, we reply with “I’m fine.” Because the truth is we know that if we say no I am not actually okay, the way we get treated and the way we are viewed from that moment is then changed. People do not know how to react when you say you’re having a bad mental health day. Whereas if you had flu people know how to respond and are generally more accepting of a physical illness than they are of mental illnesses. Which in 2017 is a sorry state of affairs! But never be ashamed of saying that you are struggling, you’re feelings are valid, you are valid. There is nothing wrong with you either for struggling, it takes such a strong person to lift up there hand and say ‘I am really struggling right now I need some help’. I know because I have had to do it several times.
Some days my mental illness still wins, and on those days I stay in bed and ignore messages from friends and just generally shut myself of from the world. Because on those days my heart feels so heavy and I feel like I’m drowning because it hurts to breathe, it hurts to just simply exist on these days. And I feel like I might not be able to make it beyond this. The facts prove otherwise, I have survived every day I have felt like this, and so will you.
You may feel like you’re failing in recovery because you’ve been struggling for so long. But you are not. Recovery is not a straight road, it takes you down all sorts of routes and just when you think you’re doing okay it turns you upside down!! The fact that you are still struggling does not mean you feel like this forever. Although it feels like it right now, you wont I promise. It just means that you have some more work to do in order to heal and that is okay you are healing right now. I wish more than anything recovery was just a one stop thing and then we would all be okay, but the painful truth is that it is not just a one stop. You have to keep choosing recovery over and over again, every day. Sometimes I have to actively choose it more than once a day. Because sometimes life can be hard, and we have to chose to want to recover, Even when it would make me feel better to simply not choose it and go back to my old habits of hurting myself. I don’t. I deserve to recover and so do you. No matter where you are at in you’re recovery you are enough. I am enough.