Tuesday, 17 October 2017

I am not your inspiration

Ever since I started talking openly about my mental health, I have been showered countless times with the complement "you are such an inspiration". I always took this to heart and felt warm inside. Yet it dawned on me that I am only an "inspiration" because of my mental illness. Like all experiences in life it is what you do with it that defines who you are, I use my mental illness to help others. However, it dawned on me that I am only your inspiration when you are faced with a pretty picture of recovery. 

I am not your inspiration when I am pacing around a room panicking because of a hunger pain which translates into my mind the doom of potentially vomiting. I am not your inspiration when I am sobbing into the floor. I am not your inspiration when I sit with a razor in my hand and I stare at my previous scars having an internal argument about whether I should do this or not. I am not your inspiration when I am living with this. The picture I paint to you when I am better is what you think is inspirational. 

Neither my struggle or my smile is inspirational, my ability to get up in the morning isn't inspirational and my scars definitely are not inspirational. At the drop of a hat I would give up all of this in order to have never had to experience any of this. 

It is not inspirational that I talk about my struggle, it is not brave, it is none of the things you want to label me as. It is a search for other people who know this internal pain, fear and feeling of being completely lost. It is an attempt at helping to create a society that doesn't flinch when someone sobs the word suicide. It is an attempt to help educate people. But none of that makes me an inspiration. Inspirational people are people that you aspire to be, traits that you aspire to have yet none of this mental battle is inspirational. It is sad, it is frustrating, it is lonely, it is a roller coaster of emotions but never do I look at myself in a mirror and think that because of this I am inspirational. 

When you tell me I am inspirational, are you telling me that, I, Angela, am inspirational or because my journey with mental illness and my desire to be open about it makes me inspirational? 
Note: I don't want this to sound ungrateful in anyway, I am touched by your kind words but I just felt this was something that needed to be said as I started to question what it was exactly about me that was inspirational. 


  1. Hi Angela
    I'm not sure how people will react to this but I get it, I've thought the same,especially give it all up never to experience it...but (yes, of course there's a but) unfortunately haha you are ispritional, we are, anybody whos brave enough to share personal experiences in aid of helping others (and you do help) are inspirational. I use to say I wanted the old me back (I saw your tweet!) But I kinda like the new me, yes I have my bad times but I can read stuff you've written and many others and start turning it around again...because some of the post are inspirationa!!!
    Like I say, I do get where you're coming from but I'd definitely like it if you kept writing and sharing coz it helps me and it'll certainly help others too. Take care, all the best

    1. Hi Matt,
      Thank you for your comment. I do agree with you, I can see why we are seen as inspirational and brave but I don't want to be seen as those things only because of my mental illness. My mental health is anything but inspiration.
      Dont worry I wont stop writing or sharing! There is still so much change that needs to be bought about. Hope you are well.


  2. I totally get what you are saying here. It's the same with physical disabilities. We call those who take part in the para Olympics inspirational. But this just separates them further away from able bodied people in society. It's meant as a compliment buy it does more harm than good. I think this is very similar to those with mental health problems. Very thought provoking post which I may use as inspiration for my own thoughts on this topic

    1. Thanks for you comment Nicole. I very much agree that this is the case for those with physical disabilities, at the end of the day they are doing the best they can with what they were given. I look forward to reading your post.