It’s no surprise if you’ve read my blog before that I’ve been dealing with mental illness, working on my own recovery, and finding ways to improve my overall health. I’ve previously mentioned #SickNotWeak, an online community that supports people who are dealing with various mental illnesses. To say it’s amazing doesn’t quite describe it. Little to no drama or bickering that I’ve seen. Nothing but support and encouragement, not just from the “leaders” or “admins” but from EVERYONE – it’s a gathering place (so to speak) where you go to hang out. People who are struggling reach out and fellow community members support and encourage with no bias and no judgement. People who are feeling stronger – they’re right in there too, reaching out and helping out fellow community members. We all know the tables can turn from day to day. You might go from seeking help to giving help in a matter of days. I’ve personally been on both sides of the coin on several occasions.
Which is why I’ve now joined #SickNotWeak as a volunteer. I believe strongly in the community, the ethic, and the drive to eradicate the negative bias and stigma that so often attaches itself to narratives about mental health or mental illnesses. I’ve been overwhelmed by darkness, faced months of near-constant thoughts of suicide and death. It scares me how close I came to taking my own life, and as frightening as that is – there are few things that scare me more. One of them is knowing that there are people out there, feeling as alone and isolated as I felt. That there are people feeling like no one “gets it” or understands. That there are people out there who are absolutely terrified of dying – but it still seems more appealing than facing another day of darkness.
I’m under no illusion that just because I’m volunteering with #SickNotWeak that I’ve got it all together, and I have my mental health issues figured out and under control. Not by a long shot. I have no doubt I’m going to face many more hard times and dark times in the future – and if I don’t, than I will be one of a lucky few who has fully overcome a serious brain disease. Perhaps if that happens it could be called a miracle – truth be told, all things considered, the fact I’m still here to write about this is a miracle in itself. The fact I use that word with somberness, considering I’ve struggled in my faith for years, should tell you how amazing it is that I’m still here.
Parting thoughts. The image below isn’t mine – it’s just a stock photo. The text however, is my own. In a moment of clarity and introspection the words came to me. I don’t know if I’ve ever been able to portray something with such clarity and power. If I can reach one person and give them hope – my burdens will be worth it. It does get heavy and hard, I won’t minimize that. But having an impact on even one person? Yeah – I’ll face the darkness all over again if I have to.