“Get up, go do something, you’d feel better if you weren’t so lazy.”
Those of us who battle mental illness have probably been told something along these lines. The statement, although usually said in an effort to help, is often received as quite the opposite.
As someone who has struggled with mental illness throughout life, I don’t want to be told these statements. I’m not lazy. In fact, I am anything but.
My brain is constantly working in overdrive to function normally, which is not only emotionally draining but physically exhausting. Sometimes I need more rest than others; it’s important that I take the time to let my brain relax and my body breathe. What may look like laziness to an outsider is actually important self-care. It’s learning to listen to my body and acknowledge my boundaries.
Some days are easier than others. Sometimes I go through the day with little to no reminder of anxiety and depression’s presence while other days the heaviness of depression and the overwhelm of panic become too much to handle.
On the harder days, I need patience from those around me. Please don’t call me lazy, or tell me that if I just did something it would go away. I’ve tried that. I still do. But sometimes, doing something is just too much.
Navigating mental illness is a process of clarity and confusion, ups and downs. It’s a lifelong journey for many of us.
So, to those with mental illness: don’t ever give up. Listen to yourself and learn to take care of you. Ask for help when you need it and surround yourself with those who care for you. Know that you are important, you are not alone, and you are loved.
And, to those without: listen and learn. Be kind and understanding with your words. Have patience and hope. Educated yourself. Be encouraging and supportive, walking along side those in their journey.
Together, we can change the stigma surrounding mental illness. We can create a better support system for those who struggle and give tools of guidance to those who don’t. Continue to have conversations, ask questions and listen to each other. Help understanding grow.
But, please, don’t call us lazy.