One awesome thing about Eeyore is that even though he is basically clinically depressed, he still gets invited to participate in adventures and shenanigans with all of his friends And they never expect him to pretend to feel happy, they just love him anyway, and they never leave him behind or ask him to change.
So I suffer from a chronic mental illness and have for most of my life.
Some mental disabilities, like many physical disabilities, are tricky because you cannot actually “see” it in someone else – and you may never know someone (close to you or strangers you interact with every day) is struggling unless they feel comfortable sharing that part of their life (like what I’m doing right here).
Since I’ve collected the nerve to be more honest about my illness, I have gotten some incredible clarity, which has included:
- I’m learning to see that asking for help – with my patterns of emotional self-abuse and physical self-harming, including struggles with suicide – have been an act of courage, hope, and love for myself to heal and recover.
- I’m learning to acknowledge my disability as a part of who I am without allowing it to be the defining characteristic of my identity – because it is not the events of life that define us but rather how we persevere through those events.
- I’m learning to use my own experiences with the rock-bottom lows to empathize and sympathize with the people I want to help, to understand and to empower.
- I’m learning that the only constant is Change because everything – all the feelings and situations, good and bad – are temporary, so my goal as a person and as a writer is not to try to capture or hoard experiences but to embrace the unknown, the uncertain and the unending cycles of growth, death and rebirth.
Our imagination is a beautiful thing and it is something I rely on to help me write. But it also can be used against us, such as when its coopted by mental illness to imagine our sicknesses are maybe illusionary or that the pain we carry is not valid. It contributes to (subconscious) beliefs that we are not worthy of ever feeling better.
I have been really fortunate to have so much love to support me, but many people don’t have that and are discouraged from vocalizing their needs for understanding.
Which is why I make it a serious effort to not neglect these issues when writing fiction.
I hope it can help someone feel a little better.
For more help on this, click over to archie’s DIY… mental health self-care