As mental health awareness month draws to a close, my view on my mental illness is that it’s not going to go away. I have learned to live with it as peacefully and effectively as I can. The idea that I am going to wake up one day and not have mental illness is highly unlikely, and that was so damned difficult to accept. But with acceptance came a new determination, an infusion of energy, and an uncanny ability to think outside the box.

It becomes not about extinguishing symptoms but about living harmoniously with them. I think this is where many psychiatrists, mental-health-care workers, and many who have mental illness may have it wrong.

For example, I do not need to learn to go into a crowded store that is frightening and overwhelming to me when there are other stores that carry the same product. My measure of success is not whether I can go into scary stores; my measure of success is in finding innovative ways to live effectively and joyously, with the symptoms that I have.

There are so many ways to work around symptoms, work with symptoms, and incorporate symptoms into one’s life, rather than being taught how to tolerate them.

I also don’t have to feel bad about myself because I have mental illness: I am not broken, I am not damaged, I am different, and it takes a special kind of strength to live with mental illness. I’m okay with not being like you, and I am capable of, and do, celebrate those differences.

Lets repaint the face of recovery using colors created and chosen by persons with mental illness. Let’s start a revolution of hope! Hope for recovery and wellness for each person who has, or is affected by, mental illness. Because I am here to tell you that recovery (not cure) is possible and beautiful!

Quit asking me to find ways to be like you, and help me to be the most effective and happy me that I can be.


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