725,000 people are thought to be currently suffering with an eating disorder in the UK (b-eat.co.uk), that’s just eating disorders – imagine the numbers for how many people are suffering with any mental illnesses. Sadly, we’ll never know the numbers. People are too afraid to come forward and speak openly, and who’s to blame?
Us. You and me. Society.
Somehow we’ve created a world in which suffering with a mental illness is often thought of as weak and pathetic, something that would only happen to someone feeble, someone fragile, someone unlike the person any of us strive to be.
It is this lie, this all too common misconception, that is creating a world in which so many of us who experience periods in which our mental health causes us so much pain and angst, sit quiet, living with a tortuous mind without telling anyone. We sit there with constant critical commentary running through our minds. We tell ourselves we’re unworthy. Who would want to know someone unsteady? Who would want to hire someone undependable? Who would want to be with someone unstable?
If you’re suffering with a mental illness you are not weak, you are not fragile, you are not broken. You are strong, able and brave. You wake up each morning and face the demons. You carry on living, despite the hateful narration running through your mind. You face the self-criticism and the self-destructive thoughts and you battle through. And one day this will become easier, and you’ll start to notice that the bad days are becoming scarcer and the tiny ray of hope starts to grow until life is suddenly easier again, not perfect, not always happy, not unceasing sunshine and rainbows but it’s just not an endless dark and heavy abyss. Life will be ok again.
If we continue to defy the social norms, stand up and tell our stories, be open and honest about our struggle we can create a world in which this is ok. Let’s create a world in which physical illness and mental illness are treated equally, and we’re not congratulated for our bravery when we speak out.