Great Things

Public Domain image / Wikimedia Commons

I often read things to the effect of “don’t let mental illness prevent you from doing great things”, and I don’t necessarily think that is bad advice, per se. You can lead a good, fulfilling life with mental illness. An awful lot of people do. There is no reason to allow mental illness to prevent you from doing that.

But it needs to be acknowledged that the statement about “great things” can be a bit stigmatizing, or at least could contribute to self-stigma. I mean, sometimes “great things” involve just getting out of bed. Sometimes “great things” are just finding the strength, no matter how difficult, to continue to exist, even as it feels like your soul is on fire and you can’t take it anymore.

As I mentioned in my Potential post, I felt like I had an awful lot to live up to, growing up. Even recently, upon graduation from college (at the age of 36, a hell of an accomplishment as far as I am concerned) I have felt the need to do what many of my peers have done and advance my career in my chosen field (art).

However much I would like to, and however much pressure I put on myself to be able to, my health is not where it needs to be in order to pursue that goal. Not yet. And I need to be okay with that. Someone telling me that I shouldn’t let my illness prevent me from my “goals” would, despite their (likely) good intentions, do great harm to me. I am already fighting self-stigma on that front. That advice has the potential to make that even worse.

I’m not saying that, by default, young people (or newly diagnosed people) should just give up their lives and ambitions. Far from it. What I am saying is that health comes first. And taking care of your health at the expense of what other people say you should do is not giving up.

I guess the point is, whatever you are going through, fighting through it is a “great thing”. Keep it up.