What Mental Illness Means to Me

I wrote this for a friend who edits a church newsletter. Hopefully, I didn’t scare them.

I’ve now lived half my life being mentally ill, soon I will have known it longer than I have not. In a way this terrifies me. Will there ever be a day where I do not know it? A day where it does not in some way define me? Living with mental illness is like placing an elaborate overlay onto a photo, blurring it in some areas, lightening it in others, making parts of it more intricate. It is sad to say but it truly affects every orifice of my life. With a combination of OCD and depression there are few moments I am free of either.

Mental illness has put a divide between my loved ones and myself. A mystery to them, they rarely understand my moods and compulsions. This divide has angered me at times, frustrated at these inexplicable conditions hindering my relationships, I often feel alone. On the other side of things, when those surrounding me meet life challenges – the sorrowful kind – my empathy pours over. I understand their anguish – albeit at times temporary unlike mine that seems lifelong – and in that moment we are no different. I’d also like to think because my spectrum is so far entrenched in one direction, that of depression, it’s opposite end reaches just as deep. Perhaps, my ability to experience joy, though fleeting, is enhanced. I’d like to imagine so.

They often say, God does not give one more than they can handle. I frequently think of this and try to continue forward with my life with hope that one day I will be free again.

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