The following post is one not for attention, nor for sympathy. The following is simply an extension of my own reasoning for this tattoo on my arm, and may shed an increment of light on the immense compassion I have for the mental health community and suicide prevention.
Recently I found myself pondering the idea that I seldom label myself as mentally ill. I know in my heart that I suffer from mental illness and have been diagnosed, however, I hardly speak aloud of my diagnosis. I asked myself why that was. It dawned on me that regardless of my education, my wisdom, and my strength, I still find myself in many cases bound by the stigmatization of mental illness in our society. At this moment I choose to share, with anyone willing to read, my story of mental illness. I am taking a stance against my own tendency to avoid my own diagnosis.
My name is Morgan McClelland and I have depression. I am not depressed, as I am still a human being that is not characterized by my mental illness. This may be causing some of you to become wide eyed and confused. What I mean is that a person who has schizophrenia, has schizophrenia. They are NOT a 'schizophrenic'. I fought seeking help for a long time as I believed that it was a phase, or that I was tough enough to handle it myself, and perhaps because I was terrified of asking for help as I believed that it made me less of a person. This, I know now, is very inaccurate. Since I began feeling this way, I have been routinely writing. I write to lose myself on a piece of paper, I write for clarification, I write to vent, but most importantly I write for strength. I write for the strength to get out of bed and make my way into the world for one more day, because with depression, one day seems like a big enough obstacle without the scary thought of 'the rest of your life' crossing your mind. The following are small increments of my journal entries. Before you read, I know the people close to me will cringe at some point and I assure you I am very much so healthy at this point with NO suicidal ideation. Please note that as I read these over, I too am filled with sadness as I can empathize so deeply with how I felt in these exact moments of weakness.
March 15, 2013
'The biggest frustration I have is my inability to understand and control my own thoughts and feelings. I'm sick of having to fight so hard to smile; to fight so hard to be happy. Depression is a vicious cycle that people who have never experienced don't understand.'
March 19, 2013
I signed my journal 'sincerely, a girl that just wants to be okay again.'
April 25, 2013
'I can't help this unhappy feeling. That commercial that says depression hurts really is legitimate. I have no energy, I am just frustrated and sad all at the same time. I feel lost in my own mind; lost in my own life.'
July 16, 2013
'This feeling I have isn't one of darkness necessarily. It just simply feels helpless. It's like I'm drowning and as I come up to the surface, I breathe just enough to stay alive, for me to drop down beneath the water again.'
February 21, 2014
'Today I woke up as a person unlike my usual self. I woke up angry, angry at the entire world. Everything that happened, everything anyone said, I allowed to solidify my anger. I spoke aloud when I got in my car. I asked myself who would care if my car lost control into a pole.'
February 24, 2014
'To fight this battle everyday is hard enough without having to perfectly articulate a feeling that no one will understand.'
Fret not, these awful lines are often followed with lines like 'I know my weaknesses. I know my triggers. The end result of knowing that you have won even the slightest battle like getting out of bed gives me enough hope that one day, when I am ready and wise, that I can win the war.'
My point of this post is to tell each and every person reading this that it is okay to not be okay. It is okay to fall apart. It is okay to cry. It is okay to fear the monsters under your bed, and it is okay to fear the monsters that lie within ourselves. It is okay to be angry. It is okay to have a mental illness. What is not okay is to stop fighting, to forget how far you have come, to forget to credit yourself for being a survivor of life's hardships, to blame yourself for wrong doings beyond your control. I know that these things are easier said than done. I know that you will still wake up some days and be reminded of how it feels to fear your own mind. I know what it feels like to temporarily forget what happiness feels like. I know what it feels like to be climbing a mountain that appears too great to climb, but I can also tell you that one day you will get to a point higher than where you are today. You will find a rock to grasp, and I'm not saying that you will never fall, because you might. You might fall ten more times, but our scars remind us of where we have been, and what we have already survived. All of this is why I got this tattoo, all of this is why I chose the helping profession, and all of this is why I will spend the rest of my life fighting for happiness. My story is not over, my fight is not over, and neither are yours. ❤️💕
My name is Morgan and I have a passion for writing, just as i have a passion for supporting those that suffer from various mental health concerns. I fully believe that each day is brand new and we can do with it as we wish. Mental illness is crippling, and you may lose the battle but that does not mean that you will lose the war. Happiness is something worth fighting for. Keep fighting.