“I believe that today we’re facing a psychological epidemic, one in which people no longer realize it’s okay for things to suck sometimes.” — Mark Manson

We live in a very physical world. Appearance, exercise, sex- it’s everywhere all the time and we like it. It’s tangible, it leaves no room for doubt. Even the illnesses we talk about are physical. We call in sick to work with the flu or we cancel plans because we have a cold. Let me pose a question: what would happen if you called in sick or cancelled and gave the real reason. “Sorry, I can’t make it today… I had an anxiety attack this morning.” “I won’t be coming into work, I’m too depressed to get out of bed.” I cringe at the thought of expressing these reasons for absence, these very real reasons, to others and I’m sure some of you do as well. This all goes back to the world we live in. It makes us uncomfortable to hear these reasons because they’re not physical. These are illnesses within our minds and even though 1 in every 5 adults in this country experience mental illness in some form, it’s not real enough to discuss in society.

Is mental illness more represented in society today than it was even 5 or 10 years ago? Absolutely. But we are not done yet. Mental illness is present in a large percentage of our society and yet it still makes us uncomfortable to share it with our closest friends and family. This is because we live in a world where we want to pretend everything is ok all the time. Work is fine, school is good, all my relationships are great, and, oh yeah, this morning I shit a rainbow. It’s like we’re all putting up this facade of perfection for everyone else without realizing everyone else is also putting up the same facade.

The best way to begin living day-to-day life with a mental illness like depression or anxiety is to acknowledge two things: 1) it is ok to not be ok all the time and, 2) no one else is always ok all the time, even if it seems like they are. Settle into the discomfort you are feeling because it is part of you. Mental illness does not define you but it is a part of you for now, and pretending it’s not is merely the foundation for self-loathing, not recovery.

Love yourself for you, mental health issues included, and remember: you are not alone.

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