I use a lot of different language to describe my journey in recovery. Sometimes I call it a path or a journey. Other times I say fight. I don’t like to say ‘struggle’ because I feel like it puts me in a negative headspace. Yet all of this raises the question, is living with mental illness a journey, a fight, or something else entirely?
And my immediate answer is it doesn’t matter. For example, others might say I struggle with mental illness even though I don’t use that language, and that doesn’t matter for me. My experience with my mental illness is what matters, and the words I use to shape that experience can be whatever I want it to be.
The trick is to not let others define your experience with mental illness with the words they use. Because other people will use a lot of words to describe your experience. I have been called overly sensitive, weak, delicate, a mope, and many other things. And early on, before having the tools I learned in therapy, these statements and what others thought of me defined my reality in a big way. It is still something I struggle with, even understanding mental illness the way that I do.
So my experience with mental illness is whatever I want it to be. On the bad days it is a fight, because I know I am pushing back against the darkness, but other times it is a journey because I know I am growing and healing and getting better as a person who lives with mental illness.
And so are you. That is the great thing about defining your own experience with mental illness, you get to find your own words for it that inform your own recovery.
No mental illness is the same, and no recovery is either, so why should the words we use be the same?