Seana Speaks: I am not a victim


It’s time to write an article. It’s time to write an article and it’s my job to do it. It’s my job to do it, and there are people who think that I am the best person for this job. There are people who think I am the best person for this job, and they are so, so wrong. I have fooled them, fooled them all.

My arms ache with the effort to lift them high enough to type. My eyes burn with the effort of remaining open. My head is a foggy burden filled with nothing at all. I know nothing, I can think of nothing. Who are these people who believed I would be good at this? Good at all of the things I have been allowed to sign up for and assigned to do? Foolish, every single one of them.

My friend this morning told me I look “so unhappy,” which means I am failing. I am failing at keeping that which belongs on the inside where it belongs – inside. I am now bothering the world with the drudgery of my emotion. “I’m not unhappy,” I say, “I’m fine, fine. Just tired.” We hug. My arms ache with the effort of lifting so high. I smile broadly as we separate to convince her of my absolute fineness. People want to believe in that so it’s an easy lie to sell.

I feel very little except the pressure and worry of fear; I am failing and people will notice. I cannot hold on and people can tell. I feel nothing except the pain of muscles that would rather be in bed, the bed I cannot run to because people will find it curious if I never leave it. I try to find solitary moments to gasp for breath and battle the nausea that wants so badly to take over. I am in control, I am in control, I am…definitely not in control.

Depression. Imposter Syndrome. Anxiety. Even as self-aware and proactive as I can be, I am not always in control of their arrival. Even well-medicated and under the care of more than one doctor, I do not always call the shots. It feels, often if not always, like the disorders that categorize me are also stronger than I could ever know how to be.

It is in these moments that I have to give myself permission to be the person that I am. I have to be a person with a mental illness so that I can heal from an episode, a flair-up, if you will, and move forward. When I adopt this mindset, I can let myself go to bed. I can more readily expose the world to my sadness and give those who are ready to support me the opportunity to do just that. I can share my internal soundtrack with those who know me, so they can help me discern fact from fiction – am I an imposter? Am I burdening you? Is everything here okay right now? I can reach out to my professors for understanding. I can call my doctor. When I allow myself to accept my mental illness as a part of who I am, I stop living my life as a victim of that illness.

Experiencing sickness when you have a mental illness is not a statement about you as a person or about your ability to overcome a disease. It is, however, an opportunity for you to showcase just how much you value yourself and are dedicated to self-care and self-love.

The light is hurting my eyes and the strain of typing hurts my arms. Anxiety thuds against my ribcage and turns my stomach. I want to sleep the entirety of the day away. With gratitude for a well-established support system built upon years of honest and open communication, I allow myself to write this article based on the truth of my moment and will next send myself to bed. Perhaps tomorrow will be better, perhaps it won’t. One breath at a time, out of the depths of a love for myself that I have had to learn again and again, I will dedicate myself to living in and through each moment with all the gentleness I can muster.