I’ve struggled with mental health issues ever since I was a teenager. I had severe anxiety and mild depression back then, which shifted to generalized anxiety, PTSD and depersonalization disorder, and currently have ended up with the diagnosis of PTSD and borderline personality disorder, depending on who diagnoses me. Whatever the real diagnosis is, you can basically call me crazy, but in a good way— I am learning to love the craziness.
I’ve come to understand that it was a unique combination of trauma, disposition, genetics, and potentially my karma and astrology that led me to develop into the person I did, with these symptoms of mental illness.
If you met me, you’d probably think I was pretty chill. I usually come off that way. When I’m around people and socializing I tend to forget about what is happening inside my brain. I also like to put on a show and be positive. It makes others feel more comfortable, and like everyone else, I like being happy. For the most part, I am largely a happy person these days.
When I’m alone or in a triggering situation, my mood can shift and I can easily begin to dissociate or feel very low. Only those closest to me know the depth of these mood changes.
If I have learned anything on this mental health journey, it has been learning to love myself, mental illness and darkness included. When we don’t love ourselves in totality, even the negative parts, that means there are parts of ourselves we are not accepting, perhaps even hating.
For a long time, I hated these parts of myself. I was so focused on trying to cure them and get better. I spent several years obsessing over health and wellness as a result. I did improve my health quite a bit— I lost weight, improved my energy, and created a better life for myself. However, I still wasn’t at this level of perfection of functioning that I thought I needed to be at.
Many of us want to strive to be the best versions of ourselves, and it can cause us to sink into patterns of critical perfectionism that do not allow for any “negative traits,” or flaws to be shown. It can make us go a little crazy when the person we want to be and show to the world is not in alignment with the person we actually are inside.
The first step to loving your mental illness is to simply admit that it’s there. To accept it and to live with it. To not try to hide it from others and pretend that you are perfect. From there, it is a slow process of learning to live with it and eventually, learning to love it about yourself. Nobody’s perfect. We are all human and have flaws. You are doing yourself and humanity a bigger disservice by pretending you have all the answers and have it all figured out, as many people do, than to admit your flaws to yourself, and to others if you feel called to do so.
Here’s the secret— no one is as perfect as they make themselves seem on social media. Everyone is flawed in their own beautiful way. It truly is our flaws that make us more beautiful and more lovable, and more human. It is best and a lot less stressful to embrace them in authenticity, and to accept ourselves for who we are, flaws and all, than it is to pretend they don’t exist.