Saturday, 13 August 2016

A Life Long Stigma

Living with mental illness is a battle - every single day. When I hit recovery though, I thought that I was probably over the worst of it; I was no longer battling myself, I was able to do the things that I wanted to, I was starting to grow. However, I've come to learn that recovery in itself brings a whole new set of issues - who am I without the heavy weight of an illness that I've lived with for the last 11 years? What would people think about my scars when I saw them? Would I ever feel like I fit back into the world around me properly?

The answer is - the stigma doesn't leave just because your mental illness improves. There's this heavy cloud over you - and not everyone will care about the rain that pours from it, but undoubtedly there will be people who will always see you as having too much to carry for them to be comfortable. I've found out the hard way that there will be people that see me differently when we sleep together and they notice my scars, or when my past comes up there will always be people who physically cringe. There will always be situations wherein I will feel torn between explaining my scars, and wanting to pretend alongside them that they don't exist.

Then, I feel annoyed with myself. I'm adding to this lifetime stigma that my illness was something that I should have been and should continue to be ashamed of - and that was something I never wanted to feel. I came this far, and every step I take forward and every breath I take from now on; they're a blessing, something that some days I never thought I'd see. These reminders of the illness I lived through, combined with the knowledge that I'll likely have to suffer through it again in the future don't make me weak, it's not something to be ashamed of - it shows I'm a warrior, that I fought every step of the way.

I've learned that people who can't handle my scars and the knowledge of my past, they aren't worth my time. People who see me as weak when all hints point to the complete opposite will never understand what mental illness is truly like - what's it like to fight your own mind to live every day. My scars are nothing more than the scars from broken bones, deep grazes from falling in the playground - they're parts of me that were broken when my mind was, and they're parts that healed up and are stronger than ever.

So if you can't handle mental illness - just be grateful you never had to live it. And never let anybody feel like what you are is too much to carry just because their hands are too small.

Sammy xo.

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