I felt like, with mental health, both good and bad, defining a huge portion of my life and identity I needed to post today. I thought about posting all of the bad things that had happened when I was at my worst, the way I’d been treated by people I thought cared about me, the situations I’d put myself in due to a feeling of utter worthlessness but that helps no-one, what this post is about is hope.
Hope is one of those concepts that seems ephemeral, it seems so short lived that it’s often crushed by despair. I used to believe that hope was something other people achieved once they’d sorted themselves out, once they’d seen all the right professionals, got on the right medications and somehow found themselves in the right situations they could start hoping again right? That’s how it works right? Right?
Wrong hope is an ongoing mindset, it’s one of those things that takes a bit of practice to perfect but once you know how to find hope you start seeing it everywhere. You can’t truly lose all hope, you can only ever misplace it for a time, it’s always there down the side of your sofa next to your keys and 56p in change. I found it when I started using it to define me rather than my illness. I’ve spoken at length about my mental health. You’re probably sick of it by now, I know I am and that’s the point, I’m sick, this isn’t me, I’m not depressed, I have depression, I’m not anxious, I have anxiety. You are not your illness and letting it define you gives it a chance to take away your hope. You have an illness, you are not your illness.
You wouldn’t say “I am cancer” or “I am hepatitis”, you wouldn’t tell people you were flu or announce loudly in a revelation to your family “I AM DIARRHEA!” You have illnesses, you don’t become them.
So today of all days, World Mental Health Day, lets shed that definition of ourselves. Lets stop saying “I am depressed”, “I am bipolar”, “I am mentally ill” and lets start saying “I have a mental illness, it sometimes stops me from doing things but I also have hope and that starts me doing them again”