Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Its okay to not have it 100% together all the time
I came across this picture and it spoke to me and my situations that I face. Often times when I do not have it 100% together ALL the time then I feel as if I am a fake and I am not of worth or value. It is especially hard to see past this message when one is ill and not feeling their best. We are our own self critic when it comes to striving for the best we can be.
Even I still face days, weeks, and sometimes months where I still struggle. Although I go through periods of time where I do not struggle, there are times that I do- and sometimes it is a fight for my life. I enjoy the times in my life where I feel good and things are going well- they are a blessing. Just because I have come so far in my journey and am an advocate for change in the mental health system, doesn't mean that I don't still face trails and struggles. I would be a fake to sit here and tell you everything has been perfect in my road to recovery. I have never thought that the journey would be perfect and that I might have some bumps or potholes that I will still have to face. Its a realistic expectation. I am not immune to struggles because after all, I have been diagnosed with a mental illness since the age of 13. Its a part of my life that I need to manage constantly in order to stay well. Its not something that is going to go away like the chicken pox and not come back. Its more like diabetes where it is always there and I need to constantly be mindful of how I am feeling and to have regular appointments with my health care team. Its a part of my life that I need to live with and accept.
I notice when I am ill my personal expectations becomes higher. I figuratively beat up on myself and tell myself that I need to do better, I need to put my game face on, I need to appear as if I am fine and that I am not struggling... I basically need to fake it till I make it so that others do not worry about my well being. Most times, I can do this and fool many people when I am having a "Not Myself Today" kind of day. If someone looked at me and did not know me then they would assume that all was well and I was doing great. I think a lot of people do this to push through to get through the day so that they can go home and crawl away into their pajamas.
High expectations are not good for anyone and in fact they hinder someone's progress in getting help. If a person feels that they should be able to get themselves out of how they are feeling then they are less likely to reach out for help initially and act as if things are fine. Perhaps they may try to wear that mask as long as they possibly can, conveying to the outside world that things are going great in their lives. When asked, they may say "fine thank you" but inside are screaming "help me!". Over time, they may wear down enough to reach out for help but only to selected people which is a make or break pivotal point in time.
It's not a realistic thought that a mental health advocate should not struggle. We are human and are not immune to mental illness just like someone else is not immune to cancer. We are bound to struggle mentally and physically over our lifetimes so it is not a good idea to set yourself up for failure to think you cannot struggle anymore. Its hard when someone has been visible in the community to admit that they are ill because people are watching and looking up to them. Its not fair to say that a mental health professional will not struggle with their mental health during their life time, just as it is not fair to say that a doctor will never be ill. So, why do we put these high expectations upon ourselves and automatically set ourselves up for failure time and time again.
Its a very lonely world when a person cannot be honest with how they are feeling no matter their profession or role in the community. When it comes down to it, it has to do with stigma... stigma from the community and self stigma. From the community stating that "you do not look sick- you are fine". Self stigma in that you try so hard to do it yourself and not let anyone in for the fear of judgement. Both are very hard to curb and hard to confront. But if self stigma gets addressed then it is easier to get help once you admit that you do not care about what others think- its a matter of life or death at this point. Once you are able to do this, then healing will come a lot easier without having to fight yourself on what is best for you.
Remember it is okay to not have it 100% together, 100% of the time... its a unrealistic expectation that is false. Its okay to be real. Its okay to not appear happy all the time. To think you have to be perfect 100% of the time and never struggle is "BullS#!T, 100% certified". Its okay to struggle- its called being human!