As some of you may remember, back in 2015 I completed a 15-week Virtual Internship on an emotional support forum called 7 Cups of Tea. This afforded me the opportunity to mentor Members and Listeners through a peer-to-peer support model on all things mental health on an online platform.
(Excellent resource! If you would like additional information on this free therapeutic cyber-space, please visit the link or comment below.)
During this time I was also in mental health recovery myself, and took the time to share some of my personal experiences. Among them, was the epiphany of what it means to be “high-functioning” when you have a mental health condition, which directly lead me to the topic of outward appearances and the stigma so many face.
While preparing for my fifth psychiatric appointment, which took each and every one of my spoons at the time, I emerged showered, dressed, haired, and make-up-ed. My then-husband took one look at me and said,
“You look way too put together to be crazy. You should go in pajamas and slept on makeup.”
While dismissing my anger, my mind became illuminated and preoccupied by the visual representation of mental illness in society.
It’s true. More often than not it is messy. We are so quick to assume the homeless passer-by or eccentric widow must certainly be succumbing to some episodic behavior of the depraved and diagnosed. And yet- who is accounting for the high-functioning mentally ill, or those who may find themselves blissfully twirling through a period of normalcy?
What of those who protect their self-worth, fighting to emerge from the infamous blanket tower or the voluminous scribbling of unrealistic ideas?
What of those who are somehow able to stand on two legs long enough to advocate for their children, even though a bottomless storm is creeping beneath?
What of those who attempt to meditate with psychosis ringing in their ears?
What of those who experience mania in a not altogether euphoric religion or productive frenzy?
Most importantly, what are the consequences of this strength?
Natasha Tracy illustrates,
“So yes. I’m capable. I’m talented. I work hard. I produce stuff. Yay me. But the price I pay for that is not being able to be anything else.”
From “High-Functioning Bipolar Disorder” featured on America’s Mental Health Channel.
So, the next time you jump to judge someone’s capacity you might stop and instead consider the truths we all contend with. Consider the chronic pain manifested by depression, the smile of a co-worker, or the family crisis on line three.
EVERYONE has mental health. The true mastery is in balancing the chaos with enough self-care to allow yourself to function.
Just because you can pay your bills on time, doesn’t mean you’re any less sad than Susie-Q over there. Just because the voices in your head encourage you to swim in the ocean, doesn’t mean you can’t run your own business.
**If you’re a mental health survivor or mental health provider and want to tell your story – please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!**
For more excellent insight and entertainment through a collaborative approach to all things mental health, including a guest post from yours truly, visit the Blunt Therapy Blog by Randy Withers, LPC! For additional perspectives on suicide prevention from master level mental health providers visit, 20 Professional Therapists Share Their Thoughts on Suicide!
In collaboration with Luis Posso, an Outreach Specialist from DrugRehab.com, Deskraven is now offering guides on depression and suicide prevention to its readers. For more information on understanding the perils of addiction visit, Substance Abuse and Suicide: A Guide to Understanding the Connection and Reducing Risk! In addition, for a comprehensive depression resource guide from their sister project at Columbus Recovery Center visit, Dealing with Depression!