GUEST POST: Compassion

I am really excited to announce a collaboration and guest post by another awesome blogger, Savannah from The Mostly Pretty Good Life! Go check out her amazing blog and give her a follow!

I also wrote a post on her blog, you can check it out here!

Compassion – By Savannah

Photo on 2018-02-21 at 20.00

When I told the world – or, my 300-something friends on Facebook – that I have bipolar disorder, I got a lot of similar comments.

  • You’re so brave for sharing.
  • I suffer from mental illness, too.
  • I had no idea.

I was impressed with, but not particularly surprised by, the number of individuals who “had no idea.” When I was hospitalized in high school for suicidal ideations (doctor-speak for I thought about killing myself, a lot) and self-harm, I let a very select few non-family members in on what was going on. They had been clueless.

But that was how I had wanted it, and how I continued to want it for years to come. I kept my mental illness a secret. I was embarrassed. As years passed, I kept the secret because I didn’t want my friends’ pity.

I decided to share my most well kept secret with everyone I knew (several people who didn’t use Facebook got an email or face-to-face discussion) a few years ago. And everyone had been completely unaware.

That’s part of why I felt that I wanted and needed to share. I consider myself a high-functioning person with mental illness, but I fully attribute this high-functionality to my decade-plus of therapy and a precarious cocktail of medications.

The thing is: I know I’m not alone. So many people take medications for mental illness, and so many people would benefit from therapy (if they aren’t already benefiting!) and it’s kept secret. I have bad days – I’ve had some that were real bad. I wanted to be able to share that with my friends and certain coworkers, and be given some slack and understanding. I realized that pity is not even what others wanted to offer.

However, all of this was easier for me to share because I was feeling good at the time. I shared on the eight-year anniversary of the day I stopped self-injuring. It seems to me that people are more willing to hear this kind of thing when there’s light at the end of the tunnel.

Everyone likes a happy ending, right? I didn’t want to complain about it – though I have since, and felt okay about it, because I had already brought my illness to light – that’s the understanding I mentioned before.

When people “have no idea”, they can’t have compassion like when they know. And while I don’t think everyone needs to share his or her mental health journey (though I think if everyone did, it would be pretty cool!), I long for a world when everyone is compassionate to others.

Whether you’ve revealed your mental illness status to the world or not, no one knows what anyone around them is really going through. And because it is simply impossible to put yourself in others’ shoes, realize that it is the right thing to do to show compassion and understanding for others – regardless of what you think you know about them.

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