Saturday, September 21, 2013

Mental Illness and Stuff

This is something I have not-so-subtly been beating around the bush with recently, but it is something I need to say. I am tired of hiding and being ashamed for something that isn't my fault, and if the stigma is going to be challenged, it needs to happen from people like me.

It's a poorly kept secret that I suffer from depression and anxiety, mostly social anxiety but I get plenty of the general kind, too. Many people experience these things, both temporarily and permanently. I am not a special snowflake and I know I'm not alone. Like many psychological issues, these things live on a spectrum, and it just so happens mine lives on the more severe side. I say that cause it's not a rough patch (although right now I am definitely IN a rough patch), but it is my daily struggle and I've accepted that it always will be.

Like anyone with a long term illness, it has affected my ability to function my entire adult life. I've spent a lot of the last 12 years figuring out how to do just that. I've spent that same time struggling with self-harm. You may or may not have noticed the old scars on my arms. If you see me in person sometime soon, you might see the new ones. I'm still struggling with my illness in all its shapes and forms.

But I've spent the last 6 years or so getting a lot of awesome support and treatment from health professionals. I've gotten a lot of support from my husband, and from my family family, my Norwood family, and all my friends, and sometimes in unlikely places. The last few years I've even made some pretty big steps to being functional! Like working and whatnot. Also using public transport. Man, that was scary. I've failed pretty hard, too, over the years. I'm failing very badly at the moment, but I'm still here, and that's the important bit. Right now, I am facing each day or hour or minute one at a time, because that's what I have to do right now to survive. My mental illness is trying very hard to win right now, but I'm also trying very hard not to let it.

So, that's me. I've alienated a lot of people as I've been learning to deal with this, and I might be alienating people now. That is okay. Dealing with illness is scary. Dealing with invisible illness is pretty weird for a lot of people too. I don't expect anything from saying all this. I've never wanted to draw attention to myself or be a burden on others. I don't need pity or sympathy or to be treated differently. I just want everyone to understand: to know me is to know my illness too, because it IS me.

Hi, I'm Lexa. It's nice to finally properly meet you all.

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