I’m not sure, are you? Ask yourself the loaded question: “I have a mental illness. Am I really sick?” When I ask myself this question my mind conjures up this: “No, sometimes life just gets a bit tough, but doesn’t it for us all?” And then my inner psyche rambles on about how the disease of mental illness, the ‘sick’ part of it, is nothing like, say, a broken leg or bout of pneumonia. But that’s not the point.
Having a Mental Illness is a Disease
Sorry, no way around this one. Even an anxiety disorder rears its anxious head from time-to-time. If you have a chronic mental illness (I am tentatively raising my hand over here), you will probably have periods in which you are sick–unwell.
Call it whatever you want: ‘sick’ can be translated into a period of instability, recklessness, anxiety, depression. The fun stuff! The stuff that can define mental illness if not treated properly.
But here’s the thing…
Living With a Mental Illness is Difficult
No kidding! When you are first diagnosed–in the years prior–your life was probably pretty unstable. Mine was. It was hard to wake up each morning or impossible to sleep.
Once diagnosed, things were still difficult. Doctors and psychiatrists and medications and more medications. Oversleeping and under sleeping…the road to recovery was anything but easy. It was largely defined by the highs and the lows of mental illness.
If I were asked, at that time, if I were ‘sick?’ I might have laughed–and then I would have cried. I felt hopeless and many of us initially do.
We Are Not ‘Sick’
We are recovering. Much like the recovering addict– and I have some experience here–who works hard to stay clean every single day, recovering from mental illness is similar–every single day we take our medication and work to live a clean and healthy life.
Sometimes, the best way to live is in the moment with your eye on the future.