Thursday, June 30, 2016

A Love Letter to Women With A Mental Illness

Dearest Most Lovely Captivating Woman,

Do not apologize. You have done nothing wrong. You have asked to have this struggle, this mental illness, as much as a diabetic has asked to live with such a medical condition. And, yes, that's exactly what it is. Your mental illness is a medical diagnosis that you bear gracefully everyday, despite your failures and accomplishments. You are still here. Appreciate that you have done what is necessary to survive thus far. Don't allow anyone to tell you that you've fallen short. You haven't. There will be days when pulling away the covers in the morning is your greatest success, and that's okay. There will be days when you can only do the bare minimum and feel you've fallen short, but you haven't. You are beautiful, even when you think your reflection appears gray and you feel the best you can do is another's worst. On those days, I ask you to remember to not compare your blooper reel to someone else's highlights. It isn't a fair comparison. 

You are incredibly strong because you have chosen to fight another day. In fact, you're not so much a survivor but a warrior, and I stand in awe of you. Forgive yourself for the Ramen noodle dinners, the canceled social gatherings, and lack of hot water after your long, tear-filled shower. Some days are just awful. Sometimes those awful days are many. Please remember that it is just a bad day and not a bad life and that brilliance doesn't exist in this world without a little madness.

You are in good company - many brilliant badass ladies have had mental illnesses. I encourage you to Google "Notable Women with Mental Illness." Every day, you, like them, are an inspiration and, sadly, you may never be told of your impact. My manager at work, Mo, inspires me daily. She reminds me that the stereotypes and stigmas associated with mental illnesses are all just bullshit. She is bipolar and embodies the complete opposite of everything I was taught by the media and society that Bipolar Disorder. She works extensive hours, is raising two charming young ladies (who excel greatly with her encouragement and guidance), and doesn't require a damn thing from any man. She is thriving in life, though some days may not be as exhilarating as others. She does her best to stay optimistic and, though she appears fearless, I know she has days when she's just like me—a duck. Feet paddling furiously under water, yet appearing so calm and collected on the surface. 

Maybe one day I'll tell her how much of an inspiration she is to me. In her, I see that my Bipolar Disorder is just a label - a one-word catch-all to condense the many symptoms with which I need comfort and assistance. She lives her life for no one but her children, yet she's inspired me. And so I wonder if I've done the same for another. We inspire many times unintentionally and unknowingly just by being our warrior self.

This one, though, I'd like to do intentionally:

To the many badass women out there struggling with any form of mental illness, you are just that: badass. You are an inspiration; your strength shows others the true perseverance of the human spirit. I want to hug each of you out there reading this and, hopefully, you are reminded of your inspiration by these words. I hope you feel comfort to your soul, but also an appreciation for your uniqueness - for adding a kind of glitter to this world. Thank you for, everyday, choosing life. I don't wanna live in a lackluster world. You matter; you are always enough. You are sugar in a salt shaker. You are all of the lights that give magic to the night sky. You are not your illness. 

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