When speaking of mental illness, I could go along the common path of explaining how the stigma is almost as bad as the illness itself, the flaws in the mental health system, or the frustrations of being unable to provide any physical proof of an invisible sickness.
But I won’t this time.
This time I’ll say that my experience with mental illness has helped me to gain so many skills and insights that I would never have gained otherwise. Although there are many days where I am horrified by the alien voice of my own mind, feel trapped in a dangerous psychological cycle, and want nothing more than for my mind to just shut up and be ‘normal’, I still don’t wish that I was, or had experienced, anything different.
Through the many hours of therapy, self-reflection, crying, ranting, brainstorming, creative expression, and supporting of others’ mental illness;
I have become a lot more self-aware.
I have learnt about my limits, my strengths, my weaknesses, my boundaries.
I have further discovered my necessary methods of self-care, my values, and my passions.
I have grown and developed as a person in ways that I wouldn’t have otherwise.
I have learnt so much about human nature and the world around me.
I have gained mental strength and resilience.
I have learnt valuable social skills and had conversations and discussions that I will never forget.
I have discovered the experience-strengthened power of my influence on those I’m supporting.
And, for the above, my gratitude overflows.
The mental health journey is a roller-coaster ride full of wonderfulness as well as terribleness, and although I feel exhausted just thinking about it, I look forward to the lessons awaiting me in my future experiences.
Parts of my brain might be messed up but I’m not a messed up person.
I might have mental illnesses but I’m not a mentally ill person.
They are not my definition, they’re merely one part of life’s many battles that I am willing to fight.
And I will win.