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You Are Strong!

You have two people, same age, same ability level. One is walking along a flat sidewalk, the sun shining, the other is attempting to climb a mountain, battered by rain and wind. Who would you describe as “strong”?

Coping with a mental illness is a challenge. People look down on you. They see you as “weak” or “less capable”. They don’t realize that internally, you are climbing a mountain. Your brain is putting up road blocks – mountains – in front of you that you must deal with and overcome. It’s not easy to deal with the depression. It’s not easy working with doctors and therapists to battle the symptoms. It’s not easy to battle side effects of medication. It’s not easy to deal with the aftermath of the depression: broken relationships, lost employment, destroyed self-esteem. It’s not easy to deal with the stigmatization, society telling you, “you are less than us”.

We are not “less than” anyone! We are strong! We are courageous! We are determined! We do not give up or give in. We fight day by day to climb that mountain. We do it drenched in our tears, battered by society. Each derogatory comment, a blow. Every pitying look, a blow. Every time someone gives up on us, a blow. Whether it’s mentally -- thinking we can’t do what others can do -- or physically -- leaving our lives -- each event breaks us down and reinforces the idea that we are “less than”.

I was told I was “less than” so I got my degree. I was told I was “less than” so I got a job. I was told I was “less than” so I got my master’s degree. I showed the world I was not “less than” but the messages continued. I lost friends, I lost jobs, I lost opportunities but I won’t give up. I am not “less than”. I make mistakes, I face challenges, but I am not “less than”.

WE are not “less than”. Those of us who fight, who persevere, who face life day after painful day are not “less than” those who are blessed with happy childhoods, mental stability and/or health. In many cases, we are stronger than those people because we battle in private. No one knows the battles we fight. We are so adept at managing our struggles that people don’t realize the strength we possess.

If you struggle with life, don’t see yourself as “less than” anyone! See yourself as a warrior. See yourself as an overcomer! You are strong!

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