I know how hard it is to get out of bed some days. I know that the thought of having a conversation with someone sometimes seems unbearable. I know what it’s like to want to hide under your covers and cry until you disappear. And I also know that eventually it will get better.
I have struggled with mental illness since early in my teenage years. I still struggle, and in recent years it has gotten exponentially worse. If you looked at the position I am now in life, you would have no idea that I struggle with such a mental disorder. I am the sorority girl at a big university that has her dream job lined up for her when she graduates in two years. If I just told you that sentence, you would say that I have a pretty great handle on my life. In reality, I am drowning. But no one knows. There is no one to pull me out, only my thoughts to keep dragging me down. But sometimes I catch a breath. And you will find those moments too.
Sometimes I feel so lonely, and I become an introvert. I intentionally push people away just to prove to myself that they don’t care enough to reach out again and help me. That’s my call for help. Except no one hears it except me. My mind is so destructive to myself and all my relationships. No matter how alone I feel, I know that I really am never alone. And you should know that too. I know its hard to open up to others about such matters, when people don’t understand or don’t even know you’re suffering, but baby steps can eventually lead you out of the water.
In fact, baby steps will get you quite far away from your suffering, even if it is in secret. Every night before you go to sleep, set a goal for yourself. Something small. Maybe it’s to get back into your workout routine, or deliver a presentation with confidence, or eat a healthy meal. Any little change to your schedule that will give you satisfaction will greatly improve your day. After your first day of completing a goal, you’ll go to bed the next night saying, wow I did something today. And then you’ll take another baby step the next day and accomplish something else. Maybe after a few days of setting goals for yourself, you can set a goal before you sleep every night and reflect on one positive thing that happened to you that day. Keep a journal, even. Before you know it, these baby steps will lead you right into a different mental state; one of satisfaction, motivation, and maybe even happiness.
If you break this streak, and have a bad day, or a few bad days, it is okay. You are allowed to not be okay. But you are still not alone. Life may seem unbearable, but think back to the few days when you had simple goals for your day and you forgot about the demons in your mind. You were the person that people around you already think you are.
If you are silently suffering, and people have no idea that you are, you have accomplished faking it until you make it. This term is not always used in the best context; but here, you have fooled everyone around you that you are a normal person, who does not suffer from any kind of mental impairment. So my advice to you, is to fake it until you become it. If you have these people fooled, are they really fooled at all? You are the person they think you are. Your mental illness does not define you. Sure, it may have shaped you in secret, but people do not see you for it. Become that person that everyone sees. All it takes is baby steps.