I suppose you can say I’m doing all the right things for myself:
I’m a 4.0 college student who works two jobs, one being in my actual field, while the other supplements me with way more money than I can count. I’m a passionate artist and writer, have been published in magazines, and have been deemed skilled enough to sell my own creations. I built my own computer, I fix my own car (a manual-transmission car, to say the least), I’ve been the president of various clubs, and have moved people to tears with my poetry. I have friends that love me – friends who say I’ve changed their lives entirely for the better, friends who say they don’t know what they’d do without me – I’m successful in many aspects of my life, in fact, I excel in many aspects of my life.
Please don’t think I’m trying to uptalk myself, because I’m not. All of my success doesn’t go without fighting thousands of battles.
Who am I battling you ask? Myself.
Although I may appear mostly confident, kind, and maybe a little awkward and goofy on the outside, there is much more rumbling underneath my surface that you do not see.
I live with high-functioning mental illness.
High-functioning mental illness basically means you’re still able to function within society, but also have to manage a variety of internal symptoms that are both physically and emotionally taxing.
I suffer from anxiety and depression – I am the type of individual who can feel so worthless that I want to just disappear, but can also feel so panicked about not being worth enough, that I feel like my lungs are collapsing.
Having high-functioning mental illness is like being stuck between two worlds inside your own body. You’re too prideful to let yourself fully fall apart on the outside because you care so much about so many things (and are quite honestly obsessed with your need to prove your worth), while also feeling entirely hopeless and worthless at the same time.
High-functioning mental illness is a corrosive disease that breaks you down slowly, but constantly.
It’s too slow to overtake you completely, allowing you time to heal and scar up, but in the end you never stop corroding – your internal wounds reopen quickly, although no one can see them.
Describing the act of hurting and healing may sound like some poetic form of strength, which is true in some aspects, but in reality I’m waging war. A soldier thrown into the battlefield, only to be dragged back to the sidelines and patched up just before I bleed to death – and soon, I’ll be forced to fight again – and I always do, because that’s all I can do.
The entire first paragraph of this post was stated mostly through my logic, the one side of my brain that passively observes my successes and can recognize that they exist. While on the other hand, my emotional side trembles.
Anxiety chimes in:
“You’re not good enough, look at what you’ve done, how the hell could you even think to say that to her, don’t text them, you’re a bother, you’re gonna throw up, I know it, I feel it, oh wow, did all the air just leave the room? Well that’s exciting… for about three seconds, because have you even thought of the future? Do you even realize how much better they are than you? Do you realize how much you actually bother them? How they hardly love you as much as you love them? Do you really think a 92% is good enough? Do you really think 100% is good enough? No one cares about the work you do. No one cares about the words you give. No one cares about the hours of effort, of emotion, you put into your art, no one cares about your soul. So don’t waste your time.”
Depression follows in suit:
“You do realize that this life is meaningless, right? Everyone leaves, your love leaves, your passion leaves, in the end you’re alone. Not only are you slowly dying, but so is everything around you. This world is falling apart, people are killing each other while you’re slowly killing yourself. Each day is just an endless, useless cycle, why do you try so hard? Why don’t you just let the air stop entering your lungs? Why do you let your heart continue beating when it will only be broken, time and time again? You are destined to be chained by this world, caught in an endless, useless daily existence – ‘living your life’. Is this what living is? Because if this is living, I don’t want to live anymore.”
This is my stream of consciousness, mixed in with my incessant need to still be me. To prove to the world that I am something through what I have to create. Because that’s who I am. I fight it. I fight it every moment of everyday, because I know there’s something meant for me here. My logic still exists (thankfully) – I still have the capability to understand that I am a successful human being, while deep down in my bones, behind all the negative emotional depth that scours my mind like a wildfire, I know there’s a purpose for a heart and mind like mine.
So if you’re like me, remind yourself that you deserve your success, because you’ve worked hard – harder than many.
Not only are you waging war with the outside world, but you’re battling yourself, your insides are scarred, but thick, and even more ready to cope with the pain – because that’s all we can do in this life – Cope.
Whether you’re dealing with an illness, or another negative constant in your life, remind yourself to keep waging this war, because what would our life be if we allowed ourselves to disappear? To not stand up each day and fight for the amazing things we have done, the amazing people we do have?
So please, keep being you, allow yourself to be successful, and allow yourself to appreciate what you do have.
Embrace change. Dance in the rain. Get lost on long walks in the sunshine. Listen to music that makes you feel alive. Write. Sing. Live.
And most importantly – keep on fighting.
If you struggle with mental illness, what do you do to cope on a daily basis? If you find yourself free from ailments such as mine, what makes you happy? Leave a comment below!