I’ve talked before about the importance of using the right language when talking about mental health issues. Today, I want to expand on that by looking at two ways that I talk about my experience: the struggle vs the battle.
I don’t know that I intend any difference between the two terms. I use them interchangeably to describe the hardships I have with my depression and my anxiety. I may mean the same thing if I say, ‘I struggle with depression,’ or if I say, ‘I battle depression.’ However, looking at that language objectively, there certainly seems to be a difference.
Struggling seems like I am just surviving. It seems like I am worse off than if I am battling. After all, we don’t say David struggled with Goliath, but that he battled him. Struggle suggests, to me at least, a defensiveness in my attitude that gives my mental illnesses the upper hand.
Battling is more active. I am pushing back on my anxiety, pushing back on my depression. It suggests that I am trying to beat it. And even if I never beat it all the way, even if I have days when I struggle, the fact is I want more days where I battle it.
And sure, it might kick my ass from time to time. And that is really going to suck. But rather than running away and trying to numb it with alcohol, as I used to do, I have no choice but to fight it, to battle it.
The struggle vs the battle is all about who is in control, me or my mental illness. And battling gives me a fighting chance that struggle simply doesn’t.
What about you? What language do you use if you are living with a mental illness?