What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. Today’s guest post is by Erin Cash
What I want you to know is that mental illness is not something you can fix. For close to a decade I’ve been living with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. It’s a medical condition like diabetes or high blood pressure. It doesn’t go away. Even when it’s treated, you still have it. Just like a diabetic on insulin still has diabetes, even though the symptoms are managed – I still have anxiety.

I still panic when one of my triggers strikes. I still find myself sitting on the floor in my bathroom, trying to get the tremors under control. I still have those days.

But I want you to know that if you’re fighting this (or any other mental illness) you’re not alone. I want you to know that we’re here for you. I want you to know that it’s ok to talk about it – when you do, you’ll find friends and loved ones who have it, too!

Mental illness gets stigmatized. Even I do it to myself! I’ll catch myself saying, “Well of course I think that, but I’m crazy, so maybe you should ask someone else if they do or not.” It reinforces to myself and to others that my opinions should be discounted – that I’m not “whole,” and therefore, not worthy of an opinion. Plus it implies that a mental illness means I can’t cope with the world.

That’s not true!!

I do cope with my world. Every day I get up, I go to work, I lead a perfectly normal life with my husband and daughter, and we do just fine. I pay the bills on time; I have a graduate degree; I serve in ministry in my church. But I cope differently than those for whom the world is not a day-in, day-out threat (perceived, of course).

I want you to know that help is out there. I want you to know that the medications work for many people. I want you to know that the side effects are not as bad as you fear. I want you to know that you too can cope with the world.

If you struggle with a mental illness, please tell someone. Please know that you’re not alone. If you don’t know if you have a mental illness or not, you might! Know that it can be better than you can imagine right now. You can live your life free of the things that are holding you hostage right now.

It really does get better.
It will never be perfect; it doesn’t go away.
But it can be better.

And I’m here to help!