How Mental Illness Ended My Life (In A Good Way)

This isn’t a suicide note. In fact, it isn’t even about suicide. It is about how my depression and my anxiety ended my life, which is completely different. In fact, it can actually be a good thing. 

I say this after being inspired by Brene Brown’s Ted Talk on Shame, and how shame ended her life. How failure at avoiding vulnerability ended her life. I say this after also being inspired by the book Going to Pieces without Falling Apart by Mark Epstein. Because these stories, books, and talks helped me think differently about my journey with mental illness. 

My mental illness changed my life, changed the life I had planned for myself. It made me who I am today. And that is both a good and bad thing. Before I learned to understand my mental illness, I was deeply involved with environmental studies and environmental law and policy. I graduated from law school planning to become an environmental advocate. 

Yet sometimes a story is too good not to be told. Sometimes our darkest struggles give rise to our brightest passions. And that is the case with me and my mental illnesses. 

Because my battle was made so much harder by the stigma that still surrounds mental illness, a stigma that causes so many to still battle in the dark. And because of my advocacy skills, because of my passion for overcoming the demons of mental illness, I can’t not focus my attention on becoming the strongest mental health advocate I can be. I know many amazing environmental advocates. I know there are warriors still engaged in that fight. Yet I need to fight my fight against the demons of mental illness, because not enough people are doing that. 

So this isn’t the life I planned. My mental illness ended that life. Yet that life kept my dark tales in the dark. Now, as I see how my openness has helped me along the journey to mental wellness, I can’t imagine going back. When I see others helped out of the darkness because of my openness, I can’t imagine going back. Like I said, that life is over. And sometimes I am sad about that. But most of the time, I get such a benefit from shining a light on my dark tales that I know it is the right life for me. I know that I am stronger in this new life than I ever was in my old life. 

And so I thank you for sharing in this new life of mine.

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