There is a hidden beauty that mental illness carries. A beauty that is humbling and fills one with a feeling of gratefulness that is challenging to articulate. Accompanying the racing thoughts and the frightening nights are the people who lend themselves to those in need. When agitation takes hold, when pressured thoughts turn into headaches, and anxiety becomes overwhelming, there are people there to lean on. And to these people, we owe an everlasting thank you.
When you are in the grips of a trying time, a time that is all-consuming and energy draining, it can be hard to recognize the support system that surrounds you. When the only thing on one’s mind is trying to slow things down, to return to a familiar pace of thought, observing the way those around you are helping you through this tough time can be hard. Sometimes it is not until the walls come down and you can see the little things and smile again, that the support and guidance these people have offered is fully realized.
The psychologists, the psychiatrists, the counselors, family, friends, athletic trainers, and coaches are the ones that often times are on the receiving end of the frantic calls and conversations that are filled with troubled thoughts and feelings. Just as the thoughts and feelings are frightening to those experiencing them, they can leave those on the other end feeling troubled and worried. In this moment we see something that is a spectacular act of kindness. Despite the worrisome feelings that can be experienced by those trying to give support in the best way they know how, they continue to stand with you in the face of darkness. They do not shy away from the challenge that lies ahead. Like you and me, they are in for the long haul.
Despite the challenges that present themselves when mental illness emerges, we can take solace in the fact that there are numerous people out there in the business of helping. There are people who take time out of their days to check in on the people around them, offering hope with the reminder that no matter how chilling thoughts and feelings can be they are not here to stay. There are people who have dedicated their lives to talk to you and unpack your thoughts and feelings, no matter how scary they may be. The texts that come at just the right time and the phone calls that are always answered may seem like simple things, but the reality is that these things help people make their way back to their own version of normal. An episode of depression, mania, or severe anxiety and so on can leave you feeling very removed from the life you are used to enjoying. Just as the exuberance of joyous times comes and goes, the weight of troublesome times will dissipate and become yet another chapter that has a start and an end. The road back promises to be difficult – taking twists and turns when a straight path is desired – but with the help of those around you, it is a journey that can culminate with a full heart and a big smile.
While a quick and clear cut road to recovery may seem most desirable, it is from surmounting the unexpected obstacles that appear along the way that we grow. Overcoming these obstacles will likely require copious amounts of energy and mental toughness. In the face of adversity, the people who extend a helping hand are helping to conquer mountains that at one point in time may have seemed like too much to bear. These people – the people that help you navigate and accept a world in which mental illness is a part of your life, the people that open their hearts to you to help you find your way, are heroes.
There are over 170,000 words in current use in the English language and yet, I often find myself at a loss for words when I try and express the gratitude I feel for all of the people who have helped me along the way. It seems that when I think I have found the right words, my gratitude grows deeper and needs more powerful words to encapsulate my thoughts. As my search for the right words continues, I will speak through my actions as well. The love, guidance and support that surrounds me is something that I hope to emulate for those around me. Just as I was lucky enough to have people accompany me on my journey and not give up on me, I will not give up on ensuring that throughout my life, whatever the situation may be, I will reciprocate with acts of kindness. As my journey is not over, and chapters will continue to open and close, I will strive to let those around me know how much of an impact their actions have had, and continue to have, on me.
A journey through darkness reveals a hidden beauty that will shine light on the capacity for kindness and empathy that lies within us all. When you are able to take a step back and appreciate just how much support has been offered to you, it is inspiring, breathtaking and awe-provoking. For me, these experiences have inspired me to pursue a career path where I too will have the opportunity to help those in need. When you open your heart to the world, you allow yourself to experience the love and kindness that people have to offer. While certain experiences can be frightening, the help that is lent can be eye-opening and life changing.
For reasons such as these, we owe the biggest thank you possible to the people that make themselves available to those who are struggling. If not for you, the mountains would be higher and the darkness would be darker.