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I’ll Take the Lead on This One

43.8 million adults in America suffer from mental illness.
Why aren’t we talking about this more?
Mental illness is something we don’t talk about. There’s a stigma attached. BUT WHY?
I don’t know. I wish I did. Maybe if we talked about mental illness more, that could have saved you.

I did not talk about my personal struggles with my mental illnesses until I was 18. So that means, I suffered in silence for 18 years. Some people suffer in silence their entire lives. Why aren’t we working harder as a PLANET to make mental illness something as acceptable to discuss as any other illness?

I am lucky enough to have had someone in my world at 18 years old who encouraged me to talk about my struggles, and to get the help that I so deserved. If it weren’t for her, you lucky ducks wouldn’t be hearing my shrill and persistent voice. Every day, I am thankful that she gave me a place to feel safe and comfortable in talking about what was happening in my head. From that moment on, I promised the rest of the world that I would work to provide that same safe space for those who don’t have it.

It’s incredibly hard to form relationships with other humans knowing that I am someone who lives with a mental illness. My Anxiety and Depression argue with each other consistently upon meeting someone new. Do I let them into the world in which I reside inside my own head? Do I keep that part of my life hidden from them? What if they have a negative reaction? What if I feel like I can’t ever be myself around them?
How many times did I have to have that conversation with myself before I realized- anyone who doesn’t accept me for exactly who I am, in spite of all of my struggles and all of my ailments and all of my flaws, isn’t anyone I really want to be around in the first place. The answer is: 193 times, probably. I am so lucky that I will never have to have that conversation in my head ever again.

It’s an incredible blessing that I have surrounded myself with people who love me for being Olivia. My friends, and my family, and the people I have deemed my (unrelated) family, continue to provide that safe place that my sweet friend did all of those years ago.
I can’t help but worry that the rest of the world isn’t as fortunate as I am to have a place they can go to when they need to feel the warmth of their loved ones. SO, on this cold, Friday afternoon, I hope as you are reading this, you know that I will provide that safe space for you. I won’t pry, or meddle, or ask any questions. I will just give you a warm and loving embrace, and tell you how much the world needs you.

For my S, R, Lul, J.

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