A Shout-out to the Mental Health Allies
When I discovered I had Generalized Anxiety Disorder and OCD in high school, my first reaction was total relief. Relief that I wasn’t crazy.
That there was a name for what I had. A definition. That there were others like me. But my next thought was a simple yet impossible question. “Okay, so what do I do now?”
I didn’t really know anyone else who was dealing with things like I was, because even then, in the mid 2000’s, people didn’t really talk about it. Thankfully, mental health awareness has taken giant steps over the last ten years.
My story isn’t a unique one. I’ve wrestled with my demons over the past decade. I've tried different medications, counselors, psychiatrists, psychologists, and therapists, each one taking me a step in the right direction.
But my last one said something that stuck with me. “You’re not fighting to beat this. You have these issues and sadly, they will be with you forever. You’re fighting to develop the tools to live with it for the rest of your life and not let it own you. Not let it define you.”
They hated when I said things like “My OCD…” or “My anxiety…” and would stop me and have me rephrase to use the word “the.” “The anxiety is bad today, but my will is stronger.”
Every day for years I’ve tried to live that way. Some days I fail miserably, but some days it kind of works. I take it day by day.
I recently saw this therapist after several years and they were amazed at how far I’ve come. Since I’m in it every day, it took an outsider to point out my progress to me. And I LOVE seeing and hearing about my friends or family members who struggle too, telling me about strides they’ve made.
But it made me think about someone else who doesn’t often get credit in these situations. The person, or people close to us. The mental health allies. So I would like to take a moment to say thank you to each and every one of you.
Thank you for not telling me to snap out of it and just be happier.
Thank you for not telling me I was so happy last week and that you thought this was finally over.
Thank you for not telling me that so many other people on the planet have it worse than me.
Thank you for just listening to me when I vent or when I cry for no reason. For just holding me when I spin out and not trying to fix me or fix my problems, and understanding that in that moment they can’t be fixed.
Thank you for asking me if you can touch me before you do, even if it’s just for a hug when I’m upset, because sometimes I can’t handle that.
Thank you for coming to me years later and apologizing to me. For validating me and telling me you didn’t understand then. You just thought I was weak, or lazy or tired or sad but now you see it, you understand and you validate me and how strong I have had to be.
Thank you for making me laugh when I’m down.
Thank you for letting me cry when that’s what I need.
Thank you for talking it out with me and thank you for distracting me from my problems.
Thank you for not being mad at me for being grumpy or tired or depressed or anxious more than usual.
Thank you for not taking it personally that even though you make me happy, it’s not on you to fix me and I will not always be happy.