I think a part of me has always thought that my mental illness and alcoholism made me weak.  Not that I have these diseases because I am weak, but that they made it so I am weak. My evidence was that I have to avoid both professional and social situations with alcohol to protect my sobriety.  And that I have missed countless days of work due to depression and related hospitalizations. I have thought that this all made me weak because I was not able to live a life like a person without mental illness and addiction.

I have recently come to think it’s actually the opposite.  I have been through so much more turmoil and pain and suffering than your average person without mental illness.

At times, people have a tough time in life, they fall on their face, and then they eventually rise from the ashes, if not completely back to normal, than mostly back to normal.  I have fallen and risen from the deepest depths of depression over and over again. I have hit “rock bottom” and worked hard to become sober and still fight for that sobriety every day.

If I had to physically climb out of the hole of depression each time, I could probably hold a car above my head from all of the physical strength I would get from that labor.  If I had to physically hold onto something as heavy as addiction each and every day I would likely be able to keep an airplane on the ground with nothing but my hands.

It’s easier to see strength and growth when you can actually see it with your eyes.  The strength I have isn’t something that’s so easy to see, but it is a strength that only a select few get to gain in their lifetime.  It’s a strength that keeps me fighting to survive, even when a part of me just wants to die. It’s the strength that keeps me sober even when I have a free drink ticket given to me.

My mental illness makes me stronger, not weaker.  I have bipolar II, social anxiety, and I am an alcoholic.  I am still here and I am still fighting to keep the wonderful life I have built despite my illnesses pulling me down.  

I am stronger than I look.  I am stronger than I often feel.  And most importantly, I am stronger than my illnesses.

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