We have an opossum.
Smallish but getting bigger everyday. It has taken over our porch at night. It has become fearless. It doesn't really care if you see it, as long as you don't get too close. Last night, that bastard broke one of my flower pots and stood there defiantly licking his fur on my outside bench. Clearly, it is not afraid of me or my outside cat, or my flower pots.
It made me think about mental illness, which is probably some sort of mental problem in itself, actually. How it takes what it wants. Slowly it feeds off of your fears or stress, especially in the night. How it becomes brazen in it's symptoms. How fearless it is when stealing little bit of your life away. How it has no issues knocking over your flower post and watching you whole world turn upside down. It isn't afraid. It is defiant. It is a little bastard and before you know it, it makes claims on your porch without your permission or knowledge.
And what do we do? Usually, we blame ourselves for something we did not ask for. We get scared. We worry about stigma and sometimes that worry gets in the way of the help that we need. We keep it secret a lot of the time. We struggle with sense of self worth. We hurt.
But, I think what we need to realize is that just like the porch opossum, we are not responsible for mental illness befalling us. It is just something that happens. It is not our fault nor does it say anything about who we are as people. It does not label us. I t does not lessen our worth.
There is no need to blame ourselves for something we have no control over. And there are many things to help people with mental illness. There are therapies, medications, groups, and treatments that have been helpful for most mental illnesses. There are people that understand. there are people that know what living under the stigma of mental illness is like and there are people who care.
Honestly, mental illnesses aren't even that rare. Much like finding an opossum eating out of your garbage can, lots of people have encountered it. The current statistics prove that 1 in 5 people in the US will have some sort of mental illness in their lifetimes. That isn't a small number. In fact, you probably know someone affected by mental illness right now. So, there is nothing to be ashamed about when you break down the sheer amount of people that suffer with you. Why we treat it like some majestic rarity is really beyond me. Clearly it is neither majestic nor a rarity at all.
That is the Point that I am making, I think. Mental illness should not be seen as a weakness or weirdness. It should be treated and looked upon the same way as any physical illness is. And until it is, we should keep fighting the stigma, keep helping ourselves, and keep being proud of how much we have been able to accomplish. Because having a mental illness is hard and we should be proud of every single time we win against it. No matter how small that win may be. It is still a win.
I am strong. You are strong and we can do this. We can tell the mental illness opossums of the world that flower pots be damned we are not afraid to fight back and get help. That we are worth it. That we matter. Because we do and our minds and porches are not something we are just going to give over without a fight.