The Fine Art of Apologizing for your Mental Illness

ImageHello, I’m Sorry.

Does this introduction sound familiar? Mental illness affects every aspect of your life, from eating and sleeping to relationships, to making your rent, and to achieving any of your goals. Muscle tension, IBS, and emotional distress, and difficulty motivating to eat (the eating is improving!) – all related to my severe Generalized Anxiety Disorder – converge to create a situation where I am almost always in pain. Yet very often, I find myself hiding it as well as I can, afraid to be excluded from society, from a shot at ‘normal’ life and achieving my dreams. And when I can’t quite make it, well I apologize. I’m so, so sorry I cried for weeks on end, waking up with panic attack after panic attack every morning. I’m really sorry about how my unyielding pain and the attention and memory problems that it leads to, made my assignment late.

I’m really fucking sorry. Please, accept my heartfelt apologies that I didn’t chain-smoke so I could get this to you on time. That I took the return of daily panic attacks, poor sleep and nutrition, and increasing social isolation as a sign that I need to tackle my health before I tackle any of the expectations you have of me. I’m so sorry for my extreme tardiness, because really, I see what a big fucking advantage I have over the other students who had to hand in the assignment on time. 

Who are able to write a one page paper in a night – not a month and a half. Who have emotional supports in their life that they don’t have to pay.

I apologize and I grovel and I beg people to understand, people who can’t help but see me not as someone who needs to put their health crisis first, but as an inconvenience in their own difficult life. That’s the way it has to be, I often feel. Who wants to teach to a damaged person? Who wants to hire someone who may not get out of bed?

It’s painful to watch a bird with a broken wing. 

So I keep taking off, trying to fly. And if you ask, I’d tell you that I just like flying in circles.

Right up until I tumble to the ground. 

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