Mental Illness Isn't 'Laziness.' Battling Mental Illness Is Exhausting.

by Anna Lente for The Mighty
A woman with mental illness sleeping in her bed while holding her phone in her left hand
Geber86 / iStock

I often wish I could be a “normal” wife. I wish I could keep a clean house, cook dinners, bake, and have people over. I wish I could keep up on laundry and be organized. But no, the house is always a mess, I hardly ever cook, I rarely bake, and I’m always behind on laundry. Organization? I spend 20 minutes trying to find my textbook for school and several more trying to find a pen that works.

Instead, I find myself curled up under a blanket in the recliner, watching reruns of sitcoms and scanning Facebook while stress-eating. I feel so lazy. I feel like I’m not good enough.

But then I remind myself: This isn’t laziness.

I remind myself I work very hard each day to deal with my mental illness. This battle takes most of my energy. So then I have to rest to recharge.

I look back on my day and see it differently.

This morning I had difficulty getting out of bed. My anxiety causes me to have a lot of problems sleeping. I take medication to sleep, but then it’s hard to get up in the morning. This morning I couldn’t find the energy to take a shower. But after 45 minutes, I summoned the strength to get dressed and ready for work. I made it to work early. Getting to work early was a small victory.

I made it through work with a clear mind and no panic attacks, despite being in places that sometimes trigger panic attacks. I was professional. I was able to be talkative and friendly. It’s difficult with my social anxiety to be friendly. And it’s exhausting.

After work, I worked on relaxing my body, finding healthy things to read, caring for myself. With some work, I was able to relax and be calm. It felt healing, to rest after a long, stressful week.

In the evening, I gathered my energy to play a board game with my husband and run two loads of laundry. I also caught up on emails with friends. These things are good, but draining.

At night, I spent three hours trying out strategies to help me fall asleep since I struggle with insomnia.

I look back on the day, and I don’t see a lazy person. I see a person who has to fight battles to overcome daily challenges. I see someone who still manages to be a good employee and sociable friend and wife, despite all of her inner struggles. I see someone who makes self-care a priority since she values her own health.

I’m not lazy. I fight small battles every day. I don’t always win the battles. But I keep fighting.

This post originally appeared on The Mighty.