Overpowered or Empowered?

As I have been writing posts for this blog, I have found myself gaining personal strength and spreading the word about mental health issues in discussions with friends, family, and acquaintances. Acknowledging to others that I have an anxiety disorder I have learned to manage, and that I live a productive, fulfilling, and happy life, has been an incredible source of strength for me. It is a gift I did not expect when I found the courage to share my thoughts.

Recently, I found myself having two different moments of sharing in the same evening.  When I think back on these discussions, I find myself with a smile on my face.  One discussion was extremely validating because the person with whom I spoke opened up about his own battles with a mental health condition.  We spoke for only a few minutes, but it was very clear to me that he was pleased to have found a fellow traveler who was willing to talk about the issues.  He walked away with a bit of a bounce in his step and a huge smile on his face.

The second conversation was also very validating, but for very different reasons.  Two friends overheard a bit of my first conversation, and asked what it was about.  When I explained that I had started a blog dealing with mental health issues, they quizzically asked why I had picked that subject.  I matter of factly explained that I have an anxiety disorder and I am hoping to help others by discussing my own journey.  The response was deafening silence.  They really had no idea what to say to me.  Later, when I mentioned this conversation to my husband, he asked me, “What would you have expected them to say?”  Well, they could have asked me how long I have had this condition.  They could have asked what kind of treatment is needed for an anxiety disorder.  They could have asked how an anxiety disorder manifests itself.  They could have asked what it is like to have a mental health issue.  They could have asked me when I started the blog or why I started the blog.  They could have said they never realized I had been suffering with this condition.  They could have asked what motivated me to begin to share this information.  But not one of these questions came from their mouths.  Just total quiet. And I remember the clandestine look that they passed between them.  You know that look.  The one that is kind of like one’s mouth dropping open in shock, but presumably more polite because no one is intended to see the “look.”   Inwardly, I smiled. I rather enjoyed the quiet. It proved the point that I have made over and over through this blog. Other people just don’t know what to say because they are embarrassed.  THEY think that having a mental illness is a source of shame.  But we know it shouldn’t be.  We know it is an illness just like any other illness.

We do not get to choose the items in our baggage. We just get to decide if we are going to be overpowered or empowered by the challenges.  I know which direction I have chosen. Which one are you choosing?


6 thoughts on “Overpowered or Empowered?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s