Mental Health Awareness
-Since 1949, May has been known as Mental Health Awareness month-
I have spent the last 16 years building a pretty high threshold for pain. I remember the night I got admitted to the hospital with an abscess, the doctor asked me to rate my pain. I must have said something low like 3 or maybe 4 because the doctor gave me this weird look of shock and disbelief. He said, “Most people in your situation would say 8.” It isn’t the pain that makes having a chronic illness so hard for me to bear, it is the emotional and mental exhaustion that comes with it.
After I got diagnosed, this dark cumulus nimbus shadowed my every thought, my every move. I sometimes think of my life in two stages: before diagnosis and after. I wouldn’t say the diagnosis changed me, it just gave me a different view on the world. I guess it is true what they say, ignorance is bliss.
I have had some pretty dark days.
Admittedly though, I consider myself lucky. No matter how bad things got or how lost I felt, I never wanted to give up. I’m not exactly sure why that is. I just had this undeniable will to keep going, a yearning to be the girl I was before I got labeled a Chronie. Maybe it was fate or divine intervention, who knows.
Now, do not misunderstand me. Some nights when the pain is off-the-charts unbearable, when the tears burn hotter than the sting of the cold bathroom tiles biting into my skin, and the anger inside my inflamed intestines grows, I want to throw in the towel. I beg, I plead, I even bargain with the devil to make it stop. I am not completely immune, but I have never wanted to give up in a permanent sense.
It has taken me years of self-hatred and shame to fall in love with myself, something I am still working on and learning how to do. Finding people, like the ones I have met through Team Challenge, has been instrumental in my healing process. I know, despite only having completed a season and a half with them, that I am a better person because of them. They have opened up a space inside of my soul that I thought was sealed. More than just love and support, they showed me how to be myself and share who I am without shame or guilt. (The same thing I hope to do with my blog.)
All the darkness you hide in is the light someone is searching for.
So maybe you’re not ready to open up about your struggles. Maybe, like me, you need someone to help you, to show you how worthwhile and valuable you are. If that is the case, hear me now: You matter. Who you are matters. What you feel and think, it means something. You are beautiful. You are loved. You can be anything you want to be.
If, like me, you want to change the world, start by changing your world. Be a friend, lend a listening ear, engage the quiet person, compliment a stranger, flip over tails-up pennies, laugh often, live a life worth remembering. Live.