Today's Friday Finish is not a quilt. This post is about a topic that's very personal to me and I have to warn you there is a bit of language here (although I've blurred and bleeped where appropriate.)
Depression and anxiety (and other... idiosyncrasies) have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. Since I was born, I suppose. It has been a part of every moment of every day of my life. As I've grown I've learned better and better ways of coping, but it hasn't gone away. If I'm having a good day -if I look "normal" to you- that's because I've had the time and the resources to do all the things that I do to keep my mental illness in check and they're all working well today. You see me walking around, doing my job, talking and smiling. You don't see all the work it took for me to be able to do those things. You don't see what it costs.
Things have gotten somewhat better for people with mental illness in the past decade or so as awareness has grown. It's still something of a taboo topic, but it's better than it used to be. Of course there has been push back. My generation (Millennials) has gotten a bad rap for being "special sensitive snowflakes" with our trigger warnings and safe spaces and etc. I'm not even going to go into a rant here about what BS the snide comments about those things are. I'm just going to say that if you were educated about mental illness and what trigger warnings and safe spaces actually are you would think it was all perfectly reasonable and logical.
And I'm also going to say that I know America has a long and venerable tradition of dealing with mental illness by just "toughing it out," "quit being such a wimp," "pull yourself together soldier" and coping by becoming a sulky alcoholic, watching too much TV, and slapping around our family members when no one's looking. I know that's how we've always done it, and it was good enough for our grandfathers. I'm just saying, as one of the people who 50 years ago would have just had to "deal" with this quietly and wound up an alcoholic filled with self loathing, that maybe if trigger warnings and safe spaces and talking about feelings and access to medications is what it takes for more of us to be salvageable, to be functional, then maybe that's worth trying?
Anyway, the reason for this rambling post is that I've been very fortunate. My illness is relatively mild, I grew up in a supportive and loving family who took me to a doctor, I have the social and financial resources to get help, and the medications work for me. Very few people are so lucky. Many live on the verge of suicide or in such intense mental distress that I doubt very much someone without mental illness could comprehend it. One of those people is a very good friend of mine.
When you have mental illness, as with many chronic illnesses, every day is a battle and every mundane accomplishment (like getting out of bed and leaving the house) is a struggle. Every day. Every time. But she does it. She has a killer job and doctorate from a good school and she looks totally put together and fine to the casual observer. I don't know HOW she does it. I'm constantly in awe. Because of her illness she only sees herself as a failure when she's the bravest, toughest, not to mention smartest person I know. (Yes, YOU. I know you read my blog ;) )
I made a sash to remind her what a BAMF she is and sent it off in a goody pack along with her first medal, of many. Because people who live with this disease, and keep going anyway, are amazing. Everyday.
Linking to Crazy Mom Quilts Finish it Friday.
Listening to... a song that (to me) is about a woman with depression who fights for her life every moment, and no one knows.