i don't want you to make me feel good about my mental illness

by - 8/08/2017

Little did you know when you opened this blog post that you were in for yet another ranty post by Aimee, but here we are. Settle down, kids.

so serious.
There's a lot of buzz about mental illness right now. Mental Illness, the big scary label that we sometimes don't talk about, or shy away from, the one that you're sometimes not sure how to approach because it's daunting and hulking and right in your face. It's a sticky subject that involves layers of complexity and personal experience and the inner workings of our brains that we don't want to talk about. It's something so often wrapped up in ignorance and stigma and general confusion, but lately, some of this has started to change. Mental health is something we acknowledge and discuss. People find resources, and feel more safe talking about their own struggles. We have new ways to help and discuss. With the internet we can find people going through the same things and process them together. The conversation around mental illness is one that's changing and that's a great, fantastic, beautiful thing.


With the good parts of this conversation, there are disturbing parts too, as with anything. Those disturbing parts have started to become more and more prevalent and loud, which means that some harmful ideas have become mainstream, which is something I have a lot of opinions about, predictably.

So let's talk about brains for a second.

I don't want you to make me feel good about my mental illness.

As someone with a head full of issues, I know. I've been through the anger and frustration and hurt that comes from being overlooked, misunderstood, told to "get over it". I know the harm that comes out of a refusal to talk about and work through these things. I understand that the battle against ignorance and towards treatment is a hard one, and it's one that can make you angry. It makes me angry sometimes. But I think it's those efforts and that hurt that's made us swing to the other extreme, to romanticizing and validating and comforting our mental illnesses. To making them okay.

This isn't acknowledging the pain we're going through. It's not being honest. It's not talking about it. It's reassuring ourselves that everything is okay, and what we go through and how we act is okay, and that our illnesses are a part of us. You are beautiful and radiant and starry and light and loved! You are good the way you are! Everything is good and fine and we accept you for it.

I'm a blunt person, so I'm just going to say it, which shouldn't surprise you:

You shouldn't feel ashamed of your mental illness. You shouldn't feel good about it, either 

We call them illnesses and disorders because that's what they are -- something wrong. An abnormality. A sickness. Something that is not the way it should be, not the way you were created to be. And they are things that you can treat. Accepting, being comfortable with, and feeling good about your mental illness is the idea that you can live with cancer, you can live with a broken leg, a virus, a condition. Now we deal with these things by making cutesy posts about them with nice fonts and heart emojis and telling each other we're perfect and we all feel good and fine. And it makes me angry

It's 100% true that stigma is a real problem. It's true that people will tell you to just get over it, or to try harder, and that's unhelpful to the extreme because it erases the problem. In the same way, it's unhelpful to the extreme to wallow in our illnesses and victimhood, reassuring ourselves that people shouldn't judge us for our illness because they're part of us. #relatabledepressionmemes! i'm so sorry that i use hashtags in blog posts. it's just who i am now.

You are not a victim. You are not whole and perfect in your mental illness. Yes, mental illness is as real and deserving of acknowledgement as physical illness, but in the same way that you don't tell someone with a broken leg to "get over it and walk already", you don't tell someone that their broken leg is fine.

You pursue treatment, and you do what you can, even when it's hard. 

Treatment and recovery is a long uphill battle. It's not linear. It's not perfect. Oftentimes, mental illness isn't something that can be erased completely. But you are never helpless, and as uphill as that battle is, it's worlds better than sitting in the dark. Wallowing doesn't help. Going for a walk and taking your medication and going to counseling and drinking water and fighting helps, one step at a time. Reminding yourself of the truth instead of drowning in relatable depression memes and letting your illness rule what you can and can't do helps. It all comes down to not being content to be ill, and refusing to let it be a crutch.

I'm not telling you to pull it together. I haven't pulled it together 95% of the time. I'm not okay, and I'm willing to talk about that freely. But I'm sick, and I refuse to be content with staying that way. 

I don't want you to make me feel good about my mental illness. I want you to help me talk about what I can do about it.

- Aimee

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    I once saw a pin that said something about how people who cut themselves are pure gentle souls who would rather hurt themselves than anyone else.
    And I just... no. False. Cutting is an unhealthy coping mechanism, just like binge eating or chain smoking. Pretending it isn't only hurts people.

    1. Ugh, yeah. And yes, of course we should feel bad for people in those situations, because they SUCK, but we can't pretend like they aren't things people shouldn't be doing, or like they shouldn't stop.

  2. Thank you for saying this, Aimee. It needs to be said.

  3. Thank you so much for saying this. It's honestly my biggest issue with the whole mental health movement that's going on right now. Like, I LOVE that people are finally talking about things and making them less "taboo" topics, but we don't need to be making it sound like that's OKAY. Because it's not and these illnesses seriously hurt people. It's such a dangerous trend, and we don't need to be furthering the unhealthy thought processes.

    You rock as always, my lovely fren. <3

    1. Ugh, yes, I think we're just hurting people more and creating this culture where we almost...don't want to fix ourselves and I HATE IT.

  4. My mom who literally helps people with mental illness has said this before. I have actually never thought of this but I 100% agree.

    Nabila | Hot Town Cool Girl

  5. Thank you for being blunt and saying this because it needed to be said. I deal with severe anxiety and over the past couple of months, I've found myself playing the victim role to it more and more, even though I know it's wrong. So I know firsthand that this is completely true in our society because I've lived it.

    Mental illness is something I've been around my entire life. And you're right, it does tend to be something that people like to shy away from when it comes up. But I too have noticed the more recent shift in how people approach it. Maybe that's just because I've opened up about my anxiety to my friends, but it might very well be true for more of the world too. I think it's important that we speak up about it, but also make the point that it's not something we just need to gloss over and move on from. Mental illness is a real thing, but it's also something that can be treated, so we need to just shut up about #relatablementalillnessmemes and fight and get help.


    1. It's so difficult to navigate this, especially when you struggle yourself (like I do, and like you do). It's difficult to walk the thin line between telling people to get over it and refusing to excuse bad or unhealthy behavior. I just really, really wish we would try a little harder when it comes to mental health, on both sides.

  6. Thank you for writing this. Keep it up :)

  7. I completely agree, bless this post. Not much I can say beyond that; you really nailed it.

  8. YES.
    I am 1000% sick of people romanticizing mental illness. It's one thing to tell a person they're beautiful because of /who they are/ and another thing to clump their mental illness along with who they are and say it's beautiful as well.
    I hate my anxiety. It's not part of who I am. It's not a cutesy, artsy thing. It's a goblin living in my head that needs to die. Don't tell me it's a good thing.

  9. Thank you for always being 100% honest and relatable with your posts. You always bring up the topics and issues that really matter! When we romanticize mental illness it does absolutely nothing to help us understand it, and in turn, only creates more confusion. Intriguing post! :)


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