You are not your mental illness.
The everyday challenge of living with a brain like yours might have kept you from seeing who you truly are. Neither does loving yourself mean loving your ‘episodes’ nor loving your traumas. In reality, it is not that complicated. It is being able to see yourself in the mirror – past the symptoms, past the diagnosis, away from the medicine or pills in your cabinet, and the image of your therapist in his/her clinic. It is simply acknowledging you.
A friend of mine suffers from depression. Despite the fact that he tries to suppress the dark cloud above his head with a hat that is his sense of humor, there are times when the illness will just burst and disguise itself as tears.
“I am sorry. I am the way I am. I just can’t help it.”
The way he really is is in his kindness and immense talent. He is utterly intelligent. He is funny and clever. The art that he makes just blows my mind. However, I hate that he feels an urge to take his life away. I hate seeing his scars. But not one second from those instances that I think of him less.
Loving yourself might be difficult, but for others to love you – is the easiest.
Moreover, whatever you are going through; the feeling of loneliness is inevitable. In the memoir by Mitch Albom, “Tuesdays with Morrie,” he tells the approach of Professor Morrie Schwartz on feeling anxious and lonely:
“Turn on the faucet. Wash with the emotion. It won’t hurt you. It will only help. If you let the fear inside, if you pull it on like a familiar shirt, then you can say to yourself, “All right, it’s just fear, I don’t have to let it control me. I see it for what it is.” Same for loneliness: you let go, let the tears flow, feel it completely, but now I’m going to put that loneliness aside and know that there are other emotions in the world, and I’m going to experience them as well.”
As a personal alternative remedy, why not treat your mental illness like it’s a final examination? When you go through a test, and you did not study at all, it will scare the living hell out of you because you know that the probability of failing is greater than that of passing. But when you give yourself the time to immerse in reading and understanding the lessons, the exam becomes easier. So, learn about your mental illness, analyze it until it does not scare you anymore.
In conclusion – to those mentally ill, I really hope you stay with us.