5 Reasons Why I’m Not Ashamed of My Mental Health Condition

I used to feel ashamed of my mental health condition, but now I refuse to let stigma and stereotypes dictate how I feel about myself. If you stigmatize me, that’s your ignorance, not my truth. Cool people, who are educated about mental illness and confident in their own mental health, don’t stigmatize. Stigma is dated, cruel and just plain wrong. Get educated about mental illness and come over to the cool side.

People with mental illnesses are not less-than. They are not damaged. They are not what you see on TV, the news or in movies. They are people; brothers, mothers, fathers, daughters… People. They are valuable, vibrant, brilliant members of your community. They are 1 in 4 people, not some freaky monster you’ve never met.

I have an awesome, successful, happy life… and a mental health condition. Big deal. Get over it. Just because I’m different, doesn’t mean I’m broken. In fact, I like being different.

Shame is toxic to the human spirit. I’ve let it go and replaced it with pride and acceptance. You can shame me all you want and have a big ol’ shame party, but it’s my choice whether I attend or not. (I’m always busy with better, more important things to do than sit with shame.) Shaming yourself and others are both exhausting, heavy, soul-energy-sucking things to do. I’ll be by the pool with joy and acceptance if you want to join us.

I hope you’ll also let shame go and move forward with pride. Here are 5 reasons why I’m not ashamed anymore:

1. It’s not my fault. 

I didn’t choose this. It’s genetics. It’s not a character flaw or a negative personality trait. I’m not guilty of something. I don’t have a mental health condition because I’m weak, don’t try hard enough to change, don’t have enough willpower, eat too many donuts, like the attention, or haven’t read enough Oprah. It’s my brain being my brain. (For the record, though, I eat healthy and I’ve read a lot of Oprah. I’m eating cucumbers and having an aha-moment right. now.)

Depression is extremely different from normal sadness. Anxiety is not “just worrying.” People who have mental health conditions can’t just snap out of it. Know the facts.

2. My brain is actually awesome, and I’m in good company. 

I’ve grown to love my brain. Ya, I have anxiety, I’m a human sponge for everyone’s feelings, and I’m so sensitive I’ll cry at a cheerios commercial, but the ability to feel so much is also <em>gift.</em> I have an extraordinary amount of empathy. My brain is out to lunch in some areas but it has extra mojo in other areas like creativity and imagination. I am an award-winning composer (writing a mental health musical!) music teacher, Dramatists Guild Fellow, and a published writer. My imagination may take me places I’m not so fond of (but I’m used to that by now) and it’s worth it for the beautiful places I can travel to. I’d rather trudge through mud and then dance in seas of glittery stars then walk on flat, easy plain all the time. It’s who I am and I’m also learning to appreciate the mud.. Hey, mud-pies! Mud-facials! Mud-baths!

People with mental health conditions are not doomed. Their future isn’t bleak and miserable. With treatment, they can live normal, wonderful lives and have happy, successful relationships!

People with mental health conditions are in good company! Think about all the people who made unbelievable contributions to the world who also struggled with mental health conditions! (Lincoln, Beethoven, Mozart, Tolstoy, Michelangelo… the lists goes on and on)

3. We all have weird minds.
 
Um… everyone’s mind is a little wonky. No one is thinking about unicorns skipping on rainbows (while it rains candy) all day. People with mental health conditions are not super strange aliens from a far off galaxy. (We are more like super heroes from a far off galaxy) We all have problems and struggles in life. No one is perfect. No one has a unicorn mind all the time.

4. I’m proud of how far I’ve coming and how I’ve helped/am helping others. 

It takes a lot of bravery to get help for a mental health condition and stick with treatment. It takes a lot strength to tell your story for the millionth time, advocate for yourself when your care is crappy, try a bunch of medicines until you find the right one (while the cray-cray list of side effects on the commercials plays in your mind) put up with everyone telling you what you should do to get better when they aren’t qualified to do so, have your claims denied by rich insurance companies when you can’t pay your bills, and be treated like a child and talked to in an odd condescending tone when you have a masters degree.

People say hope is right in front of you, but depression is a blindfold. It takes so much strength to keep searching in the dark.

Recovery is sort of like making an huge collage. You are always looking, finding, and pasting things that help you. Your your own work of art, a constant project. It takes a lot of energy and willpower. It takes being bad-ass. I’m proud that I am speaking out (not an easy decision) and trying to help others.

5.  My pain has become my power. 

I’m not ashamed of my pain. I think it’s made me a more compassionate person. I think it’s given me wisdom and inspiration. I believe pain can be like a question mark, asking us, “What will you do with me? Destruct or create?” It’s energy we can transform and put to use. I believe that our struggle and pain softens when we use it to create, and then with our art/work/writing we are able to soften pain living in others.  It becomes our power. It becomes our flashlight to hand to others who are still tripping in the darkness like we once were. I believe when we break down and lose everything, often we rebuild a stronger, wiser, more beautiful version of ourselves. I believe pain can be an asset. High-five, illness!

What are you proud of? I challenge you to #letshamego You have nothing to be ashamed of! You’re amazing.

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61 thoughts on “5 Reasons Why I’m Not Ashamed of My Mental Health Condition

  1. This is such a powerful post (that’s a weitd expression but I feel it describes it best). You are an inspiration for anyone dealing with mental health issues. I know that many people don’t take patients with depression or anxiety serious and it upsets me. You are a strong woman and dealing excellent with your condition! ❤️

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  2. Rachel,

    Thank you for this post. I just love tears and laughter in the same post. These are things we all need to hold and remember.

    My pain IS my power…I don’t know why I never thought of it like that. But it is so true.

    High five illness!

    Fist bump too!

    Like

  3. “Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts. I was better after I had cried, than before-.”
    ― Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
    🌸🌸🌸
    Embrace every part of your insanity. Your sameness, your scars, knowing that every single crack, is a beautiful rainbow, making you simply imperfectly perfect. don’t hide out in the shadows, but come out and bring your unique light with you and when you do, you may find that your story becomes a beacon of hope for someone else. Your life a lighthouse, guiding all of the other lost boats, into the port of safety.
    🌸🌸🌸

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, Tessa! That means the world! You do the same for me!! All of us coming together and standing up against the stigma gives me so much hope and strength. Thanks so much for all you do! Can’t wait for the next video project! Xoxoxo

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Rachel,
    Thank you so much for writing this post. I think it’s hard sometimes not to be ashamed of my anxiety, especially when I sometimes feel guilty that I struggle with it. However, you’re right. While many people may think otherwise, struggling with anxiety is not OUR faults. If we didn’t try hard to get through our issues, not that would be our fault, but if we are trying, we are making an effort. Also, while I admit that I wish that I didn’t struggle with anxiety, it has taught me that others are struggling too.

    I’m proud that even though I struggle, I still try hard to get through my anxiety. I’m also proud that I try my best to help others know that they are not alone.

    I want to congratulate you on all the accomplishments you mentioned and again, thanks for writing this post and this blog.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Hi Rachel, I am glad you got to post and if you need any help, feel free to reach out to me. I feel all that you have said. I am besides other things an insomniac and the only thing that aids me through a night is a collaboration of things including an anti psychotic. I get anxiety as I have some things I could during the day but am afraid to do so and then if I have a stressful job I am at a loss, sweaty and shaken not stirred. When I am in control and acclimated properly I can do anything. Many people may feel trapped in a bubble that keeps them from expanding. I am still learning and I have many mantras I made for myself and I will share this one with you, always moving forward. Perhaps one day sooner than later we may meet. I have actually worked at NYU as a coach and because I am highly evolved and like many have that there is nothing wrong with you, just look at you and I have had girlfriends and co workers say the same thing, it is not fun. I have written many posts here and I am highly functional and change gears and subjects. I try not to deal with darker things or dirty things as a man posting here, but we all can use a laugh and I have had people thank me for my posts as if I read their minds. That is quite comforting and I am glad to be able to do that. I am flawed in many ways myself and not only will I not hide it I would consider putting it on a business card. I am at times a bit embarrassed if I am hot under the collar and sweating but I eventually calm down. I excel at things even physically that I was told you can’t do this and I do not live like I can’t except if I am running and feel my heart rate going well over 200, then I use my sense. I enjoyed talking to you a while ago and perhaps in the future. 🙂

    Paul

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are such an inspirational person! That’s awesome! I am doing very well, too! 😅😊 I have a full, happy life now. I feel the same way sometimes, the embarrassment thing but I try to talk myself out of that! We have to change our believes about ourselves and others will follow! Thanks so much for the response!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You are welcome.Thank you for saying I am an inspirational person as I have had some times I write a bit dark and get thank yous and that I touched what they were feeling. It is a good feeling. I have been writing a lot and reaching people for one reason or another. I am glad that all is going well with you. 🙂

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  6. Love that you talked about shame and the way you expressed it. I’ve been reading a lot of Brene Brown lately and shame is her thing. I’m learning about not living with shame, not just because of my mental illness, but with my pending divorce and regularly being “blamed” for much of everything. Ongoing blaming and shame show me that others lack empathy. I feel sorry for them. Hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi love! I also adore Brene Brown and her work!
      That is great that you can have compassion for people who are blaming and shaming. Imagine how they feel inside, if they are acting that way? Ya know? They can’t shame others without feeling it themselves. It is sad. Thich Nhat Hanh describes it as their own pain spilling over. I hope you (and I need to do this too!) remember that “no one can make you feel inferior w out your consent” – Eleanor Roosevelt
      Wayne dyer said to say “what others think of me is none of my business” lol and advised “staying in your own business” thanks so much for sharing your thoughts! 😍😊😀

      Liked by 1 person

  7. A great post.
    I don’t normally read reblogged material, however I am glad I have today.
    I have suffered mental heath problems for many years making me too sensitive, anxious and sometime too manic for everyday life however, over the years I have come to accept it and think it is the best thing I have ever done.
    I like you have been accused of being a bit odd at times but thats what makes me special so I ain’t changing I am managing.
    Again, great post 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree with this 100%. Being different is not a bad thing. People who changed the world with their new ideas and imagination were all looked at as “different” and met resistance from small-minded people. Often people with wonderful gifts have brain’s just work a little too hard and it can make it difficult, but it can be worth it if we figure out what helps us! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi,

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    Nicole Lascurain | Assistant Marketing Manager
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  9. This post is absolutely beautifully!
    Thank you so much for posting this. I remember a few months ago I was so ashamed of my OCD, I hadn’t told anyone about it. I didn’t even know why I felt ashamed about having OCD, but I did. I only confided everything in my journal.
    And then it only kept getting worse and I had no option but to tell someone. I told one of my closest friend about it and she was so unbelievingly supportive. It just feels so much better to have someone “in the know.”

    Like

    1. that’s wonderful! I’m so glad you opened up to a friend and they were supportive! All the people I’ve met with OCD are very smart! i think our brains just work on overtime! It’s NOTHING to be ashamed of. 🙂 People who judge people with ocd have no idea!!! 🙂 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Literally LAST NIGHT…I came forward on my college’s most popular social media site, as a survivor of mental illness. I forced myself to the point of no return. I”m officially out. Officially a survivor. Officially someone with a mental health condition. And though I was an emotional wreck this morning, right now I feel free. Once you stop hiding, life has so many opportunities.

    FYI my blog is now under the website laurietopin.com. Looking forward to seeing you there!

    Like

  11. This post is fantastic. Can blog posts win awards because this post deserves an award! Thank you for writing such amazing blog posts 🙂

    Like

  12. As always I love your articles, you nailed it, we all have our quirks but sometimes it’s ok to accept we just need a little help (medication) nothing wrong with that at all, my life has turned around dramatically due to the right combination. Great writing 🙂

    Like

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