I saw this hashtag on Twitter today regarding mental illness: #invisibleillness.
If someone has a broken leg, the injury is pretty obvious. You can physically see that something isn't right with their body.
But it's not so easy with mental illness. Sure, you can see some things - like when I check the stove over and over to make sure it's off, or when I'm overly scrupulous in the way I try not to lie (it can be a little obvious). But mostly, my suffering is done in silence.
But just because it's invisible doesn't mean it's not real.
I recently revealed my struggles to a friend, and her response was that she never would have guessed that I struggle with OCD, anxiety, and depression. And my mom has made similar comments - that I am able to hide it well.
My response? "I've had a lot of practice." And that's true. I've learned how to cope well enough that people honestly can't tell that I'm struggling (which isn't always a good thing).
Similarly, Rachel Griffin, founder of #iamnotashamed, comes across as a "normal" person. In this Washington Post article, the author observed: "To talk to Griffin, a spunky, fast-talking singer-songwriter, no one would suspect the dark, cyclical thoughts that sometimes permeate her mind."
The phrase "fake it til' you make it" can be pretty applicable to my situation, and sometimes that is exactly what I have to do. Get through the dark days, even if it means pretending that everything is fine. Keep marching forward and living my life.
Because what other option is there? To lay down and let this internal chronic pain, this silent suffering, this #invisibleillness consume me? No. Absolutely not.
As Josh Wilson sings in "I Refuse": I could choose not to move, but I refuse.
(If you haven't heard this song, it's worth a listen.)