You can't put a cast on your mental health

Making my invisible pain visible to break the stigma

It’s visible on the outside when you’re physically injured and in pain, people can see. You might have a limp, a bruise or wear a cast. But the pain of poor mental health is more easily hidden. 
 
In some ways, it’s a good thing. Pity looks are bad enough and people don’t always want to be treated differently because they’re going through something. But the other issue is that because we can’t see it, no one talks about it. 
 
Poor mental health can cripple you in the same way a broken leg does. I’ve struggled and still do with my mental health, experiencing highs and lows countered with varying intensities all the time. Sometimes I feel so weak I might as well have broken a bone, and what makes it even more painful is feeling like I can’t talk about it in the same way as a physical injury. 
 
When you fall and break your leg,it’s pretty obvious you’ve broken something because you’re in so much pain and you’ll need help to get back up. Then you’re diagnosed by a doctor, and you have a list of steps and procedures to go through if you want to start walking again. 
 
If you break your leg, you’ll need a crutch or two. You’ll have to start depending on these crutches for support, because you can’t walk on your own. And it’s good because a part of you is getting by, going to class and keeping up with daily activities, but a question always stands. Just how long will you need these crutches for before you can stand alone? 
 
For a while you won’t be able to do what you’re used to doing, like sports or getting to all your classes. Your injury holds you back and the fact that you need crutches reminds you that you can’t do all of the things the same way as before. But eventually, after surgery and finding the right physiotherapy, you get back on your feet, always keeping the scar or memory with you. 
 
So why can’t we talk about mental illness in the same way we talk about a broken leg? 
 
At the beginning, something will be wrong and you’ll need help to get back up. Someone will diagnose it and it will keep us from doing some of the things that were once easy for us. It will scare us, but by reaching out to resources and finding the treatment that works the best, it will get better.   
 
I know we’re all scared of what people will think about us, but holding in the mental pain and frustration instead of letting it out doesn’t lead to getting help and the support from others.
 
Opening up about my own mental health might’ve been one of the scariest thing I’ve ever done, but when I did, I found a community of others like me that struggled, as well as my crutches and the right treatment to help me get back on my feet and stand tall by myself. 
 
More often than not, no one will be able to see the pain that you’re in when you’re struggling from mental health, compared to the pain that you’re in from a broken leg. So be brave, have confidence and begin to talk openly about mental health.
 
You may be surprised by the thoughtful support people will give you, and the care that your family, friends and peers will be able to offer you as well.  

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