I was at IMH recently, and I left feeling extremely overwhelmed from what I experienced there. Within the short time as a visitor, I saw, heard, and felt varied forms and severity of mental illnesses, many of which I wish I could unsee. I know I can’t.
Then again, that’s what many of us do in the face of inconvenient things, isn’t it? We lower our sights, we strive to unsee, we conveniently forget. And mental illness – mental illness is inconvenient.
It challenges mainstream opinion. It deviates from the norm. It doesn’t fit nicely into the boxes we create.
I have been told many times, by different people, in varying tones and implications, to stop talking about facing depression or anxiety or mania or other disorders.
“Don’t talk about it. Just pray. Don’t tell people. What for?”
“I’m facing it too. But I keep quiet about it. Why don’t you just keep quiet?”
“Maybe you’re facing this because you’ve done [insert mistake/sin]. Go and repent.”
The more I hear this, the more I know we have to remain vocal about it. The more we need to create waves. The more we need to have a voice.
Because discomfort is important. Discomfort means something is wrong. Discomfort means things are being hidden. Discomfort provides the impetus for necessary change.
We may have different coping mechanisms and strategies, but I choose to not remain quiet because the world doesn’t need any more meek people. Just like how evil can triumph in the world because good people don’t do anything, the world remains blind and ignorant because voices are not raised.
So I raise my voice. I speak out because people need to know they are not alone. That their tragedy need not be their calling card. That they do not need to be defined by their circumstances. That we’re all facing struggles, and it is as hard as what someone else is going through. Just because our struggles are different doesn’t make it any less real.
I raise my voice so that the beautiful souls who send me emails containing renewed hope and faith no longer feel they need to reach out to a complete stranger to address their fears.
“Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion.”
So I will not be quiet. We cannot be quiet. We will raise our voices.