Yes, I’ve had multiple periods of time where my mental health was quite bad.
Yes, I have hit the very bottom more than once.
Yes, I have struggled to manage it in the past.
Yes, I have had to take medication for a number of years, and I may need to for many more.
It is helpful and serves a biological function.
Yes, I have done extensive therapy and counselling, and I will forever because life will throw challenges at me, as it does to everyone.
Therapy is helpful and healthy and empowering.
Yes, I have needed time out from the workforce to address my health.
It has been necessary to survive and then thrive, and I’ll do it again if I need to. Because living is essential.
Yes, I’ve needed professional support and guidance in recent years, but find me a strong and successful person who’s done it all on their own.
Go on, I’ll wait.
No, I’m not so deluded to think I can manage everything on my own.
No, I’m not so proud and archaic to think of ill-health as weakness: it’s just a thing.
Find me a person who’s never had a physical or mental health issue.
Again, I’ll wait.
And no, I’m not at all embarrassed about being among the 1 in 5 Australians who have been personally affected by a mental health issue. Why would I be?
I am a human being and I have faltered, more than once.
I am a human being who has made mistakes. But I learn from the past and equip myself for the future, so I don’t repeat things if I can prepare for them again.
I am a human being and I have found a deep well of resilience and determination I never knew I had within me; even if I wish I didn’t need it.
But I have, and I know it is there.
I am a human being and I know I don’t know everything I need to, and I will go on learning new things and better things throughout my life, for the rest of my life.
All of my struggles are badges of experience and hopefully, some wisdom and empathy.
I am human, I am me, and I am proud to be me.
And I will never be ashamed of myself again.