My Struggles Will [Not] Define Me.
One thing I can safely say is that my experiences with mental health have never defined me. This is not something I say with pride or regret, I simply state it as fact. As someone with fairly high functioning depression and anxiety, I am able to integrate seamlessly into the world around me, calling little attention to myself and my issues. I am able to choose, for the most part, who I reveal my "weaknesses" to, rather than sharing them with the world.
That being said, it's not all that great to be in my shoes. I was about to type of a long list of reasons for why my life is hard, but this is not a pity party. I don't want to discuss that here. I understand how privileged I am to be able to say that my experiences with mental health do not require me to be on medication or frequently hospitalized. I may not "have it good" but I am fortunate that my mental health only dominates my world from my point of view.
When you live with invisible challenges, it can be both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, no one knows what you're struggling with. On the other hand, no one knows what you're struggling with.
Today I take that to mean that I get to define who I am. I get to create a narrative of a successful twenty-something year old academic with big dreams, who is happy, "healthy", and pushing for bigger and betting things in life. And yes, that narrative is true, but it is not the only one, or the full picture of who Jayy is. I get to shelve the narratives of insomnia and unhealthy late night coping mechanisms; of silent panic attacks; of late nights and early mornings filled with tears; of chronic pain; and of constant, nagging anxiety. Those narratives are all true too.
My story is not stagnant, and neither is yours. While I get to present one side of my narrative, there are other aspects that I choose not to share. For now, I pretend as though that means that my struggles do not define me. Whether or not that is true, has yet to be determined.