We all need a little encouragement from time to time. Whether it be a little pep-talk about getting that essay done, or a bigger kick up the bum telling you that you are strong and will beat depression, there's always a motivational saying floating around social media that'll give you that push along your way. I have no issue with most; I actually think a lot of them are a great way of inspiring others and helping your peers to be the best they can be. What I have an issue with is the sayings usually linked with mental health; more specifically, the ones which encourage a detachment from the disorder or illness. This post is just a little ramble about how 'motivational sayings' could potentially do more harm than good.
While I totally understand that some people may love them and claim that these little words of wisdom have helped them through their struggle with a mental health illness, for me, they leave a very weird taste in my mouth. I just can't get on with them, and feel that everyone's struggle is so different, a generalised, generic saying cannot really help much. Obviously, everyone interprets the generic sayings in their own way, leading to them helping individuals in their own specific situations, but I find having a conversation (longer than a few words on a sparkly Instagram background) is far more beneficial.
Here's why. For trichotillomania, there are tons of sayings flying around which say "BREATHE: IT'S ONLY HAIR" or "I'M NOT DEFINED BY MY DISORDER" or "I'M STRONGER/BETTER THAN MY ILLNESS". It is these supposedly motivational sayings which I have an issue with. Maybe, because I can only really focus on trich and depression, I don't know how well this post can relate to other illnesses (please do let me know via social media/commenting/emailing as to whether you feel the same). My problem (issue/beef) with these magical quotes is that they majorly detach the sufferer from their illness in a rather unhealthy way.
To say you are better than your illness, or not defined by it in the slightest, is to put a barrier between yourself and your disorder, as if the two are totally separate things. Perhaps it is easier to think that they are, maybe it's wishful thinking, it could be sheer denial. Your illness and you are not separate. The disorder is part of your mind, and it is you that is having to deal with it. Detaching yourself from the issue is not only delusional, but also quite dangerous.
In order to really get to the core of a mental health disorder and start to work towards getting better, you have to accept that it is part of who you are. For trichotillomania sufferers, it is not "only hair". It's all the emotional baggage and feelings of self-loathing, disgust, shame and upset that come with it. Saying it is just hair is totally dismissing the most central, soul-destroying element of the disorder; the part which effects sufferers the most. I have accepted trich is part of me, and probably will be for a very long time. This is not a bad thing; it's life, you learn to live with these things in your own way. It's acceptance. Denial will just make things worse.
You know what, I AM defined by my disorder. Having trichotillomania and depression have taught me so many valuable life skills, an immeasurable inner strength, determination, resilience, and has opened my eyes to so many things that I would have otherwise not have seen. It has taught me to love myself despite the bald face staring back at me in the mirror, eyes bleached red from crying myself to sleep. It has, without a doubt, made me the person I am today. And I'm pretty proud of that. It's not something to be ashamed about, compartmentalise, reject and deny. Embrace it- I can guarantee you will find a great more peace within yourself by accepting your illness and working with it than a silly quote can bring.
|My face, brought to you by trichotillomania.|
Does this relate to you? Or do you actually find motivational quotes help you to cope with your disorder/illness? I'd love to hear your thoughts.