Illness. Relentless, debilitating sickness that cripples us when our lives in times of success. How is this so? Why does it happen? When everything seems to be going right life seems to understand this and throws a spanner into the finely tuned mechanics of the car driving our lives. The flu, gastritis or even a broken arm, they determine our course of action in the immediate future; they break the routine and change our plans.
To those that suffer from the silent grasp of mental illness it is even more difficult to steer the car back on track. As the condition is surrounded by stigma and invisible to the naked eye; it forces an excuse, a make-believe reason that conforms more to what society wants to hear than what is the truth. It is a compromise but also a bridge of understanding that says, “I am unwell and the easiest way for you to understand this is by saying I have something physically wrong and uncontrollable; something you can relate to while giving me the distance I need to recover.” It shifts the lives of those affected into a different gear, mobilising back up plans and rearranging priorities to allow for extra periods of care.
This stigma, although has become increasingly reduced in recent times, still weighs heavily on those affected even when there are communities and pockets of society that are understanding. It is this fear of an unknown outcome that clings to disclosure that people refrain from doing so and put themselves in difficult situations where it could easily be avoided. The guilt that is experienced in the workplace when asking for personal leave is very real, it is a fight between the ability to do the work and the amount of psychic pain they are suffering. When one does not recognise the reality or severity of the pain and prolongs it, it has every possibility of making it worse in the long term. And this is something that everyone neglects and falls victim to the pressures of stigma.
It is not worth it.
In the end illness forces us to rearrange our lives; it gives us a chance to reflect, and to reshape our priorities to one that accommodates the care to our personal well-being; to become well again. We owe ourselves the right to be the most we can be.
Rearrange; and let it be so.