Having mental illness is a constant reminder that you will be misconceived on many levels on any given day. Sometimes this direct assault on your person will be in a way that you were not expecting and sometimes it is sadly familiar. Regardless of the invasion of your integrity you will experience a plethora of emotions.
For example I was pleasantly surprised to receive snail mail from an old friend. The fondness quickly faded when I opened said letter and saw hand written on the top of a devotional text “I thought of you when I read this”. The text was about Legion. For those of you unfamiliar with the bible Legion was a tortured little soul called so for being possessed with many demons. Great! Now I'm thought to be demon possessed. Audible sighs escaped my lips throughout the day as I thought about the mail I received.
The stigma of mental illness stands pretty strong on it's own without the help of those you consider friends and family feeding said monster and causing the drizzle of depression or whatever you might be experiencing to turn into a level 5 storm or hurricane. Now, knowing the person she is I know it was not meant to come from a place of malice. In knowing that doesn't mean I wasn't crushed and downtrodden by the assumption. Trying to stand in the misunderstanding of my mental illness is where the trial begins. I originally crawled and slid on my belly through many levels of hurt. I wallowed in anger, tumbled in despair, and was engulfed in self doubt. I bobbed and sank in this flood for days until slowly I realized that A.) this collapse was not beneficial, B.) this does not help with the understanding of mental illness, and C.) I'm pretty exhausted with wrestling with all of this.
I started with a letter to myself. Explaining how it was okay to feel what I felt and even how it was okay to wallow. I explained that no matter what, there will always be misunderstandings and how when I fall into them to pick myself back up and stand even when I'm still hunched over from hurt. My standing in this is not only for me but for the millions of others that deal with this stigma on a regular basis.
I know there are ideas and thoughts in every community that strengthens the shame of having a mental illness but I can help with that understanding by talking about it and not being ashamed. By explaining my situation and my thoughts and feelings because no one can fully understand until they have experienced it.
Finally I wrote a letter asking to meet and talk with this person. I have made notes, set boundaries, and set my intent for this meeting. So as not to fall back into the emotions that do not serve my purpose. I ask that you set some time to stand in the midst of a misunderstanding. Stand in love and kindness. Stand in your truth. Stand in who you are.
Stand and grow.