A few months ago, I learned about the @mentalhealthleague through @kate_speer, and the whole project — developing a league of teams representing different mental illnesses and the people they impact, both directly and indirectly — resonated with me immediately.
I was diagnosed with clinical depression and generalized anxiety disorder as an adult, something that confounds me now because, looking back, I’ve had symptoms of both, to varying degrees, since at least high school. I am also recovering from a long-untreated eating disorder, and all of this is on top of a long list of other ailments, including an immune deficiency, PCOS, and Meniere’s disease.
Simply put, any given day tends to involve some combination of existential dread, exaggerated (but still very real) panic, fatigue, joint pain, upset stomach, tinnitus, and/or vertigo. And, honestly, if the symptoms stop there, those are the good days.
I don’t share all of this because I want pity. That is the very last thing I want from anyone.
What I want is to shine a light on the realities of chronic illness, which is why I’m sharing my #MHLGameFace.
My first hat came from the Mental Health League Kickstarter campaign. I’m both #TeamAnxietees and #TeamFoggyDogs, but I chose to go with the Anxietees first because, although depression is a powerful part of my daily life, medication has helped to take some of the sharpest edges off of it. It’s always there, but the thing that I really have to fight, day in and day out, is the anxiety.
I took this picture seven hours ago, and I’ve debated even posting it because (1) I’m still learning to be okay with photographs of myself, (2) anxiety is dumb and makes things like even sharing a selfie a bigger deal than they really should be, and (3), and most importantly, I don’t feel like this is much of a game face. The anxiety is punching back right now, and I know it’s because I’m grieving the very recent loss of my grandmother, and grief is a powerful and dangerous thing to add to a cocktail of mental illnesses.
Grief affects the body so strongly on a physiological level that OF COURSE I’m having to fight harder right now just to hold onto the ground that seems so much easier to grasp at other times. Of course.
And that’s okay. Grief is normal. Loss happens. I have a sick brain, and sometimes that means I have to do things a bit differently, or fight a bit harder, or rest a little longer. All of that is okay.
The thing I want to remember, and the thing that makes the Mental Health League so important to me, is that I’m not alone.
I am not alone in the darkness. I have people who love me, but I also have an entire league of people fighting the same fight I am, and they’re rooting as hard for me as I am for them.
So yeah: this is my #MHLGameFace. It may not be my fiercest game face, but it’s the face of a girl who’s fighting like hell to keep going, and I believe that’s valuable all the same.