These past few months, I have learned I am a hypocrite. I say one set of things and I think another. And it’s not very pretty.
You see, I advocate for a better understanding of mental illness. I tell people that mental illnesses are just like physical illnesses. That you can’t think your way out of them. That they are potentially fatal illnesses, like cancer or diabetes, and they needed to be treated the same way, with some combination of medicines and lifestyle changes. I get angry at people that tell others to harden up, to snap out of it, to get it together. I guess I could be described as an advocate, except that I don’t have much of an audience to advocate to.
This round of depression has been a particularly bad one. I lay on the couch, reading to stop myself thinking, for more than two months. I don’t remember anything happening in that time. It’s just a dark fuzz. And this time around, my thinking was everything I hate about people judging the mentally ill.
There was a lot of ‘should’. I should just get up and do things. I should just stop being sick. I should just get over it. I should pull myself together. I should be looking after the kids and not relying on my partner. Myriads of ‘should’ statements that tore at me. I became a hypocrite, and I turned on myself. I still advocated for others to be treated well, but I did not extend that thinking to my own life.
There was a reason for the way I was thinking. It’s not the only reason, but it’s a big one. The reason is that the dismissive, cruel treatment of mental illness is so prevalent that it seeped into my subconscious, to be dragged out when I was vulnerable. It’s not the first time it’s happened, and it might not be the last, because I’ve internalised the message, both by experiencing it and by fighting it.
I am a hypocrite, but only toward myself. To you, and your loved ones, and everyone else in the world, I believe that you should be treated with dignity and not have to deal with stigma. In my head though, I don’t deserve such consideration.