When people see my prosthetic leg they often make the immediate assumption that amputation must be the hardest thing I’ve ever experienced. I’m met with, “you’re so inspiring for going through that!” and verbal pats on the back for the hardships I must have endured.
It’s true that adjusting to life as an amputee has come with challenges – but by no means is it the hardest thing I’ve ever had to endure.
I began dealing with depression in my teenage years, but after experiencing significant trauma in my early 20’s it blossomed into a beast that very nearly took my life. PTSD and a generalized anxiety disorder joined hands with depression and panic attacks that haunted my every waking moment for years. It took almost a decade of therapy, support, resources, and time to get to a place where my mind feels healthy and stable again.
Having had the experience of both visible and invisible illness, I can’t help but juxtapose how I’ve been treated for each.
It is so easy to overlook what we cannot see with our own two eyes. Help is readily available when someone can see that my leg is gone – but far too often, when it is our minds that need help, assistance or compassion is so hard to find. People question the legitimacy of your plight. It gets downplayed and disregarded and yet is one of the most deadly categories of illnesses there is.
If someone in your life is facing mental health struggles, I hope you take them as seriously as those with broken bones or a lost limbs. To me, mental health is the most important form of health there is. Our bodies can break down and fail us and we find a way to keep going, but when our minds are ill, it can seem impossible to be able to move on.
To those dealing with mental health challenges or illness, I see you. I believe you. You’re not alone.