Mental Health Awareness Week

TW: suicidal ideation

Oh hey it’s Mental Health Awareness Week. Whatever that means. Are we not all aware of mental health? I guess I’ll use this time to tell you that, from your friendly neighborhood mentally ill, it’s okay. Whatever you’re dealing with, whatever you’re going through, it’s okay to be dealing with and going through it. It’s okay to handle it in whatever is the best way for you. If you need meds, take them. You’re not lesser because of it, your brain chemistry is just off and needs correcting. Same as if your thyroid is off and needs help (mine does), or if you’re diabetic and need insulin, or whatever.

Sometimes it will be impossible to get out of bed. Sometimes it will be impossible to put food in your face. Sometimes it will be impossible to go to class or work or even to go outside. Sometimes the weather will be so beautiful and you’ll be desperate to enjoy it, but the best you’ll be able to manage is to open windows. Sometimes you’ll kill plants by neglect because if you can’t even feed yourself, how are you supposed to water them? Sometimes your house will be a mess, the dishes won’t be done and the floors won’t be swept or vacuumed and the bed won’t be made.

Sometimes you’ll want to die, really and legitimately, not figuratively or just in an overwhelmed way. Sometimes you’ll even have a plan for how to accomplish it. Sometimes you’ll have to check yourself into the hospital, sometimes you’ll have to call your loved ones and terrify them by asking for help with this. Sometimes you’ll just have to cry and rage and do what you can to weather the storm. Sometimes you’ll barely be hanging on by your claws and teeth.

People will have reactions to this. They’ll be understanding and helpful and supportive, sometimes. But sometimes they’ll also be dismissive, won’t understand, will think (and maybe even tell you to your face) that you’re weak, lazy, overdramatic. These words will embed themselves in your brain, they’ll repeat on a loop for days and weeks and even months, in the quiet moments when you’re just trying to unplug for a while and not have to deal. You might even start to believe them yourself, because if people who love you are saying it, why would they do that if it wasn’t true? This is hard, and I don’t know a decent way to combat it. I am, after all, right here with you.

But I’m also right here to be the dissenting voice, to remind you of all the ways you’re lovely and strong and brave. You’ve made it this far, haven’t you? You’ve lasted this long. You’re still alive, still breathing. That’s all that matters, when you get right down to it. When you throw out capitalism and ablism and mental illness stigma and every other toxic system that’s in place to keep you feeling like garbage, what counts is that you’re here. We’re here. We’ve survived so long with our brains wanting to kill us, with well-meaning but ultimately harmful loved ones encouraging our brains to want to kill us, with society wanting to kill us. We’re still here, and we matter. You matter so much. Look at what you’ve overcome. Look at what you’ve seen within yourself and chosen to fight. It doesn’t matter how unconventional or useless that fight looks to others, it matters that it works.

Take just this second, while you’re reading this, to stop and be still and praise yourself for continuing to exist. Thank yourself for the gift of your life. Remember all the little things that are so personal I couldn’t begin to make them universal here that have kept you going when all you wanted was peace. Add things to that list, if there are things to add. Never stop looking for and adding things.

You’re doing so well. I love you, and I’m aware.

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