I wake with the intention of being optimistic. But suddenly, my mental illness rears its ugly head and drops a cloak of darkness all around me.

If you know anything about me, it’s the fact that I struggle with multiple conditions. I won’t go into details about my illnesses because that’s not the point. The point is, I struggle through some of my darkest hours with a smile on my face. No, it’s not easy. In fact, it’s a nightmare, at times.

Trust me, it’s a new level of hell to live with mental illness and have a naturally optimistic personality. Although the whole idea may seem hopeful to those who don’t experience this conundrum, it’s not as easy as you think. There are 6 struggles of being an optimist that suffers from mental disorders, and these struggles are, in turn, what makes us stronger.

We see storm on the horizon

When having a naturally optimistic viewpoint, we see things clearly. Life, to us, is full of detail, emotion, and love. So, whenever we see an episode of depression or anxiety on the horizon, and yes, we are that intuitive, we then brace ourselves for the hit.

Imagine fortifying the walls of a city before a tsunami hits the shore. Imagine the tension in the body right before the impact of an automobile accident. You see, bracing for impact damages the body and systems throughout the body. As an optimistic person, we know we should think positive thoughts, but since depression is a disease, the symptoms are inevitable. Optimistic people are smart enough to know that dark days are coming, we can see them, feel them and it breaks our heart.

We have to pretend

If you see me smile, then you probably think I’m happy. Did you know that I smile sometimes when I feel like screaming? Optimistic people who suffer from mental illness, are prone to plaster a smile at any given time, whether they are happy or not. The thing is, as a naturally upbeat person, we want to be happy. We want it so bad that faking it seems okay for the time being.

Inside, behind the walls of that crisp and perky façade, a dark wave of depression is spreading and infecting us. The more it pushes from within, the more we want to pretend. It just wouldn’t be fair to show the world the truth about our darkness.

We are introverted, but then again, we’re not

Okay, at one time in my life, I thought I was introverted. Then, I thought I was right the opposite of that. Now, I play around with that thought that I might be an ambivert, but then again, maybe not. Being an optimistic person with a mental disorder will make you question who you really are. Yes, you like to talk to people, but no, you don’t want to.

You have this unlimited store of energy just waiting to get out, then suddenly, all you want to do is sleep. You adore people, think they are beautiful and captivating, and then you realize you hate people and wish you were the only person, alone on an island. No, I’m not confused, I am just torn between the sides of who I am and what I should be.

We want the sun, but we want to sleep

As a naturally optimistic person, I know I need to get up, take my vitamins and go outside for a while. I need energy and I need to be more active. Actually, I love to run and dance, but these things require loads of motivation. First of all, I have no energy and I don’t like to be around people.

That’s right, I want to sleep in. I want to feel the comfort of my dark blanket and the sound of the fan making that whirly noise. I like the sound of me being alone where I feel safe. But being an optimistic person, I realize while I lie in bed, that I need people, I need the sunlight too. Getting from my bedroom to the front porch with coffee cup in hand is not too hard, but pretending like I like it makes it a little bit harder.

We want to try in the midst of giving up

So many days are filled with hopelessness for those who suffer from mental illness. It would be so much easier just to give up on life and let it all go. On the flip side, there is a small fire that burns deep within, it warms our insides and provides that one little push that we need to be able to function.

What’s more, the spark helps us to try again, really try harder and push further than we did before. This process, of moving through the thick tendrils of depression, is one of the most painful moves we could make. But we do it anyway, with a smile on our faces and a renewed will to live. This is almost a daily struggle, but I still think it’s progress.

We are misunderstood

I have few friends. I am difficult to get along with and most people misunderstand me. They also miss the message I try to convey. I can be the sweetest person you would ever meet, and then I will disappear for weeks at a time, no phone calls, no social engagements. Anxiety would be the culprit, in this case, causing me to overthink everything and run away with a ton of regret about some mysterious assumption or mistake I made.

People misunderstand those who are naturally optimistic yet ill. To society, we are being difficult on purpose and we are just not the best specimen for friendship. The truth is, we are struggling every day just to hold a semblance of normality. If we were always depressed, we would be easier to understand, I suppose. But when our lives contrast themselves, we intimidate others. This sets the stage for how odd we appear to those who appear normal.

And the struggle is real…

Listen, I know that mental illness is not the easiest condition to stomach, but it’s real. The reason we try to stay optimistic is to stay alive, pure and simple. If you were born with this positive nature and you struggle with mental illness, my hat’s off to you. I can relate to these feelings of not quite fitting in, and these urges to try and do better.

Just remember, no matter how much society shuns you, or how they refuse to drop the stigma, this is your life. Keep trying, each and every morning, whether it makes sense or not. Maybe one day that smile will be real and you will find your love for humanity once more.

Until then, learn to love yourself, just the way you are.

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