It took me a while to accept the statement I just wrote in my title: “Just because you have a mental illness doesn’t mean you’re damaged.” In fact, it took me almost two decades to seek help for my mental problems to begin with.
I had known that I wasn’t mentally well ever since I was a teenager. I have had intense suicidal thoughts that wouldn’t go away ever since I was in high school. I dreamt of ending my life more often than not, and I released those thoughts through poems that I wrote in a spiral notebook. When my mom found that notebook one day and read my darkest thoughts, she got angry at me and I stopped writing in it. That only made the thoughts worse, though. I thought, “If my own mother can’t understand what I’m going through, how could anyone else?” Since that day, I kept my thoughts and worries completely to myself.
Now that I’m in my 30s, I’m finally living in a world where more and more people are speaking up about their mental health and their struggles with it – and with that comes the “beauty” of somehow coming to terms with how I’m feeling and what’s going on in my head.
It might sound like a cliche, but how you perceive your mental problems can affect your overall mental health in the long run. Because I had been surrounded with people who didn’t understand me and didn’t want to even try to understand me as I was growing up, I always told myself that I was unloveable because my mind was broken, because I was damaged beyond repair. Although I was already taking meds by the time I hit my 30s, I still labeled myself as “damaged” and “broken”, no matter how much better I was feeling after seeking help.
Two and a half years into accepting that I needed help, I am now training myself to stop bringing myself down. It’s bad enough when other people cannot understand me or accept me; why should I add to that mentality about myself? Instead of dragging myself down, I now tell myself that I am on a journey to recovery. I tell myself that I am not damaged or broken. I am beginning to accept myself and all of my mental flaws and problems, acknowledging that they are a part of me and that even that part of me needs to be loved, at the very least by myself.
Believe it or not, it has done wonders for my peace of mind: knowing that I am at the very least in control of that part of it. So today, on World Mental Health Day, remind yourself that you are taking steps to become a better version of you, even if nobody understands it, accepts it, or believes that you can get better. If you believe in yourself, you don’t need anyone else to feel better or get better.
And if you ever need anyone to talk to, just send a message to When in Manila Angeline on Facebook. I might not always know the right things to say, but I do know how to listen. :)
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