Mental Illness Is Not A Choice — But Recovery Is

Adam Zvanovec

If I could stick a sign that said this to my forehead and parade around on national television, I would. This cannot be emphasized enough. People all too often get mixed up with where the choice lies when it comes to mental illness.

Mental illness is not, never has been, and never will be a choice. In the same way that no one would wake up one day and choose to have cancer or diabetes, no one would wake up and decide they wanted to be depressed, anxious, bipolar, schizophrenic, suffer from an eating disorder, or insert your “choice” of mental illness here. The list goes on and on. But no matter which way you shape or turn the hell that is being mentally ill—one thing remains. And that is this; it is NOT a choice.

I think the reason people get this so confused sometimes is because mental illness does come with a choice. You are not wrong there. Where the wrong comes in is where the choice resides. One can not simply choose to be or not to be sick, one can not choose to simply snap there fingers and make it all go away. But, what one can choose is the choice of recovery. At any second of any day, all of us who suffer from any form of mental illness have the power to decide we are no longer going to live as slaves to these horrid diseases.

Choosing recovery doesn’t necessarily mean you will be cured, or never struggle again, but what it does mean is that you are making the conscious decision to fight. To not be a victim. To walk in the light of life, instead of in the shadows of darkness of death.

Because the thing about mental illness is—it is EVIL. It has no mercy. Zero, none. And it will stop at nothing to take everything from you. Every last thing. Until it steals what it has wanted all along, not just your light—but your life. It hisses lies into the ears of the strong and convinces them that they are weak and defeated. It uses deceit to trick the brave, loved, and worthy into thinking they are helpless, hopeless, and worthless.

Mental illness is nearly impossible to accurately describe in words. And perhaps that is because it is a special kind of evil, an evil that is so abstract it cannot be put into earthly terms. Because mental illness is not of this world at all—if you have suffered from it you know what I mean when I say suffering from one is like living in an alternate reality. The best way I can describe it though, is with one simple noun. And that is this—mental illness is a coward. But those who suffer from, and even more so those who fight mental illness are among the most courageous of all.

Mental illness is a pit of darkness. A black hole waiting to suck anyone and everyone down into its depths. But you see, it is afraid of the light. And it does not want you to know or believe that. Because if you choose light over darkness, no matter how dim the light may be, mental illness can not hold you captive any longer.

When we realize this we are left with two paths. The path to continue to lifelessly walk through this world as a helpless captive of the sickness. Or, the path of light. A path that is full of pain and turmoil, a path that is uncomfortable, that is hard, but a path that makes you stronger with every step, and will illuminate the light at the end of the tunnel until one day you realize you were the light all along.

Mental illness is not a choice—but recovery is.

So it’s up to you. The choice is yours my friend. What will you choose? TC mark

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