Producer’s note: Someone on Quora asked: What’s the hardest part of having a mental illness? Here is one of the best answers that’s been pulled from the thread.
Mental illness is a fickle beast, it ebbs and flows. It abates and you feel fine, calm and brilliant. Then it seizes you and wraps you in a cloud of torture and tears. In those moments, you are not yourself. Well, you are…you just aren’t the “self” you want to be.
And this is not the “self” I want anyone else to consider me either. I don’t want people to fear this scary monster will erupt if they say the wrong thing, or that they have to handle me with care.
I’m afraid if I show this “self,” this is all anyone will see. It will define me. I don’t define myself by my illness, I don’t want anyone else to either.
People just can’t help themselves. We box each other up, stereotype, categorize, summarize. This is my resume, this is my byline, these are my bullet points. I don’t want to be Ellen Vrana; sometimes normal, but watch out, unstable!!
And truth be told, I guess I’ve never loved or trusted anyone enough to ask them to suffer next to me or to see me and not judge (except my husband and my parents).
I’m not saying this is the right way to approach mental illness, it’s just my way.
I don’t show people. I can talk about it easily. But I can’t show it. When this cloud of torture and tears appears, I retreat.
And that is very, very lonely.
But I’ve gotten through it to date and will get through it again.