So today, members of the online mental health community are trying to get #imnotashamed to trend as we work to eliminate the stigma that often accompanies mental illness.
I’ve got a jumble of thoughts on this topic, and I’m going to try my best to properly articulate them, starting with this one:
I am not ashamed that I have OCD.
Don’t misunderstand, I don’t think that OCD (or any mental illness) is cool. I don’t think we should celebrate these illnesses. They are illnesses. They are often terrible and debilitating. They are difficult and we should do our best to control them any way we can.
Accepting someone with a mental illness is not the same as accepting and enabling the mental illness itself. I don’t think we should just accept our illnesses and not work to get better. In fact, I’m ashamed that it took me as long as it did to get the help I needed to get back on track.
…but again, I am not ashamed that I have OCD.
Because it isn’t my fault that I have it. I was born with a brain that works differently than other people’s. It’s biological. It’s chemical. It’s not my fault.
I didn’t choose it, I didn’t want it, and I work each and every day to fight it. Many days, I succeed. Other days, I do not.
…but I fight.
I fight to have days where I can truly be present with my children.
I fight to challenge the scary thoughts.
I fight my urge to avoid things that make me feel ways I don’t want to feel.
I fight the urge to check on my children one more time. (Okay, I fail at this one a lot).
I fight by doing exposures.
I fight by taking medication.
I fight using therapy.
I take a stumble, tell my community, and live to fight another day.
I fight so my children will have the mother they deserve.
I fight so that others with my illness can see that hope is possible.
I fight so my husband will always have the girl he fell in love with.
…and if I ever catch someone shaming another person for their mental illness?
You bet your ass I’ll fight.