Mental Illness is… a Lifestyle?

It’s Mental Health Awareness Month and I’m not done talking. Stay tuned for my post on suicidal ideation.

Every time you read a blog post or watch a YouTube video about someone’s new diet or fitness regimen what do they always say?  “You see this change is gonna stick because this isn’t about just going on a diet. This is about a lifestyle.”


I love working out, but GTFO fitspo!

When I was religious it was always “Christianity isn’t about religion, it’s about a relationship.”

Folks are always trying to prove that what they’re doing or experiencing isn’t some fad, they aren’t doing what they “should” and they’re not being forced to suffer against their will. No they’re doing this thing because this is what they love. Now this is who they are.

It Feels Like Mental Illness is My Lifestyle.

A few weeks ago I read an article discussing how tired the author was of reading about people who had “overcome” mental illness. She was sick of reading the same old story. “Oh I used to struggle. I used to be depressed. I used to be anxious. I used to this or that. But now I’m recovered. Now I’m cured!”

I’m writing this post today because I want you to know that, sure, it gets better. But it also gets worse. Sometimes it gets worse before it gets better. Sometimes, it gets worse before it gets even worse.

Even If You’ve Done Everything Right

I’m medicated. I lift heavy weights. I’m strong. I quit a job I hated. I have family, friends and a partner who love and support me. I know that I’m a good person. I’ve spent years (YEARS) in therapy. I’ve spent years learning how to care for and about myself. I’ve dramatically reduced my self-loathing. Everyday I accept and acknowledge my “bad” parts just a little bit more.

I did all of those things and I got better.

Then I got worse.

Then I got better. Then I got sick all over again. Then I got kinda, but not completely, better and sorta stayed in that limbo for a while. Then I got worse again. Then I got better.

I still have bad days. Awful weeks. Terrible months. If I’m lucky I just have a seemingly unbearable morning or night. I still get nervous when I get sad because I wonder whether I’m just sad like a “normal” person or whether this is just the beginning.

Some people experience depression once, get treatment and get better. Your struggle was real. Thank the heavens that you’ve been delivered.

For Some Folks This Is The New Normal

But for some of us, so very many of us, depression and anxiety might just be a part of our life now and recurrences are something we just know will occur. Whether it’s because you struggle with dysthymia, or because, like me, you experienced a cruise ship load of trauma during the first 18 years of your life and didn’t seek help until your third or fourth clinical depression.


Depression Can Be Chronic

It’s scary to admit that depression might not go away for good. At first it felt like giving up. I thought this proved that I was weak. I wanted to beat the depression.

But with time I’ve come to believe that it isn’t giving up at all. Instead, it is a show of strength. It is showing that you have the courage to face the truth.

Look, nobody’s perfect. Everybody’s got struggles. This just happens to be my cross to bear.

It takes resilience to be knocked down by your own mind and stand back up. It’s something unbelievable to be told by your own thoughts that you’ll never make it and you don’t deserve it and yet turn around and fight, and hope against hope, from somewhere deep down inside, that you can make a comeback.

Last Week Felt Like Hell

And the beauty of my treatment is that I learned that that was a moment. Maybe I will feel bad again tomorrow.

photo-1445633883498-7f9922d37a3fBut Maybe Tomorrow I Won’t.

When you have a chronic illness of any kind, every single day you wake up, you assess how you’re doing and then you face the day the best you can.

Everyday you choose whether you’re going to keep facing those days.

On days when it sucks you know that there are going to be more days that suck. You also hope for more days that are really good. On days when it’s good you do the same.

When you struggle with mental illness, you just learn how important it is to get through today.

Even if that means typing through tears. Even if that means feeling completely out of your mind. Even if that means being broken open for reasons that you can’t even name, let alone face or understand.

Look I don’t know why you do it. Hell, I don’t even know why I do it.

I just know that we do.

Because mental illness is not just a moment.


4 thoughts on “Mental Illness is… a Lifestyle?

  1. spokenblackgirl says:

    Hey! I just wrote a really long comment, but some internet catastrophe happened and it’s gone so I’ll try to start over! Thanks for writing this great post! As someone who suffers from geralized anxiety disorder and depression, it really bothers me when people experience a moment of worry and say that they had a panic attack, or they have a down day and call themselves depressed. People are living EVERY DAY with mental illness, it’s not something that you just pick up and put down when you choose to. And maintaining good mental health is something that’s done every day. I’m actually planning a post in that topic! I see that you found my blog! Thanks for following:) Just to let you know, myself and a few other WoC mental health bloggers are getting together to plan a conference. I’ll try to keep you posted, but if you are interested in helping to put this together in any capacity big or small, just DM me on Twitter! So great connecting with you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kristin says:

      Thanks for stopping by! Haha, I know exactly what you mean re the comments. Especially because I’m known for writing a blog post in other people’s comments, trashing it and then just doing it again lol. I will be on the lookout for your post and will shoot you a Twitter DM.


  2. Ian says:

    Ditto..another great blog …tks! Only wish to say that as for managing to feel good about yourself and where you may be in the ‘tunnel’, evry small positive step…like planning an activity or outing …is a good step. Your family may be there with luv & support but its important to spend regular in-person time with others who have experience of being in the ‘tunnel’, who understand empathise and often inspire a little. Yes it is a little bit of ‘one flew over the cuckoos nest’….the fun bit …so be sure to get on the bus for a good bit of you time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kristin says:

      Thanks, Ian. Feeling completely isolated was definitely something I experienced at times at the firm. Some of my best friends are anxious though so we get each other’s “crazy.” Definitely helps!


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