Safe environments….

rose-red-love-dew-40502.jpegWhen a person struggles with mental illness they already feel different from everyone else. Whether they have been told that all their lives (like me) or people have made them feel that way. I am so thankful for all the blogs and support systems out there that I never knew about before now. I can read about other people’s experiences and totally relate. It has shown me that what I have gone through is normal for someone with my condition. I used to try to share my heart with people that just didn’t get me. I would leave there feeling hurt, misunderstood, and especially judged. If there’s one thing I have learned not every environment is safe for sharing my struggles. It is an amazing feeling when you finally feel validated and that God is giving you stories that help heal your soul that has been maimed by those who couldn’t or wouldn’t understand you. If people would take the time to educate themselves and read about people’s struggles with mental illness maybe they could get some understanding. So many of the stories are similar and it makes you realize this really is a condition. I have never felt such freedom as I feel now to express myself to people who finally understand. A lot of people are out there still suffering in silence and they don’t know about the blogs and sites from NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness). Instead, they are made to  seem “crazy” or different or that people are scared of them. But, reality is most of the mentally ill are not out to hurt anyone except themselves. Because they have been made to feel shamed or ridiculed for just trying to be themselves. They internalize hurt and criticism because they have been made to feel like they have no voice or they don’t matter. Because of this they never feel good enough. And it is easier for people to continue to be skeptical and apathetic about mental illness than to learn how to lend a helping hand to people who already feel crippled and debilitated by it. I am also thankful that celebrities are coming forward with their stories because they are in the spotlight and have more power to promote awareness. There are so many different ways people are suffering: Depression, Anxiety, Bipolar Disorder, Bulimia, Anorexia, Schizophrenia, ADHD, Substance Abuse, etc….Dementia and Alzheimers  are not considered mental illnesses, however..they can have mental illness symptoms and use the same medications. Thankfully there are tools out there now to aid in managing all of these conditions. I am pretty sure I needed treatment as far back as when I was a teenager. I was an alcoholic then and always had suicidal thoughts. I thought that was normal until I started taking medication. I tried to commit suicide once and was called an f****** idiot by my dad who was also an alcoholic. His mom suffered with mental illness, too. But I learned to stuff feelings, hurtful words, and shame and drowned all of it in alcohol. I made a lot of bad choices, but looking back I know my condition played a part in that. I wasn’t diagnosed until I was 42. This illness took many years of my quality of life away from me, but I thank God that I am being restored and in recovery now. And that I have people that make me feel safe and loved to share my story with.

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