Recently I have come to the painful realization that my mental illness does not only impact me, but those that love and care for me as well.
I've always known that my mental illness impacts others I just didn't know that people actually cared about me. It wasn't until this past week that I truly realized, in the bottom of my heart, that I am loved.
I know I am loved and cared for, I always have. In a sense of I have never doubted that my family loves me. I haven't even every doubted that God loves me. But what I did not know was that my best friend cares enough about me to text me multiple times when I don't reply within a few hours. Or that the one man that I look up to more than I can even try to form into words cared about me enough to drop everything and drive across town to make sure I was okay.
Realizing that I am loved was a wonderful feeling.
Realizing, not long after, that therefore my illness impacts those people greatly?
Well that was a much harder pill to swallow.
Ever since I have been diagnosed with depression I have become selfish.
I, for the longest time, didn't care if I bailed on my friends, making them feel unloved and betrayed. It didn't cross my mind as a big deal when I ruined family events because I was sitting in a corner crying.
It had nothing to do with any of them. It was a me issue, and so it shouldn't impact them. Right?
I was on the phone a few days ago with a family member who I care about greatly. They said to me that they simply did not understand depression. That the whole depression and anxiety bit didn't make any sense to them. They seemed angry at me for being mentally ill. Like I let them down in some way.
When I hung up the phone I was angry, how could you possibly be angry at me for something that I have very litte control over? It is not my fault. It is not something I asked for.
Then I sat back and thought about it. That family member never said he was angry at me for being mentally ill. He simply said he didn't understand. He said he was at loss for words. But then he said that he loves me.
I realized that maybe, just maybe I needed to stop making assumptions about how people are feeling.
I remembered that the first time I talked to my best friend about her mental illness I didn't understand. I hadn't yet been diagnosed so all her struggles simply confused me. I wasn't mad at her, I just care about her. I didn't know what to say so I told her exactly what that concerned family member told me. I told her that I didn't understand, but that I loved her.
And after I told her that we sat in her room in dead silence. Because I was at a loss of words.
Does it stink that my own personal struggles impact others so deeply? Yes. But I choose to see that as not only proof that I am loved but as my motivation to get better.
After all, the Sears Tower wasn't built with only one person that cared. It took a village.
And I, I am a skyscraper in the making.