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A Bela Luta: The Beautiful Struggle

Know that it will not disappear, even if we never talk about it.

Know that it is here, whether or not we choose to see it.

Know that its silence is a decision not to listen.


There's something funny about mental illness.

And when I say funny, I don't mean having one because for the last time it's not funny 

And we are sick of being the punchline.

We are not outcasts by nature, but by force. We are not alone by nature, but by invention. 

We are not jokes because of who we are, but because our mouths are crammed

With the words of people who cover their ears when we scream.


There’s nothing funny about mental illness. What is funny is the way we behave around it.

It's the elephant in the room, that vast, looming creature demanding to be seen

But again and again we turn our backs to it because, for some reason,

We can't talk about it right now.


There's something strange about mental illness.

And when I say strange, I don't mean having one because there is nothing strange

About minds that work in different ways and there isn't anything wrong with it, either.

The only strange thing about being ourselves is the strangeness society feeds us, 

That second, hidden label on the orange bottles in our cupboards, the one that says

You are not what we want you to be.


Mental illness is not strange. What is strange is the way we see it.

It's everywhere, teeming and thriving in abundance and yet when it rears its head we tell ourselves

It’s something that happens to other people.

Something that happens to other people’s parents and friends and children and little sisters and it could never be me.

Or my parent, or my sibling, or my friend, or my child.


Know that it is valid, whether others feel it or not.

Know that it is real, no matter how many times we’re told that it’s not.

Know that this is a battle we’re fighting, even if it’s been made invisible.


There's something quiet about mental illness.

And when I say quiet, I don't mean having one because there is nothing quiet

About feeling like you're losing yourself to the soldiers committing treason in your own mind 

And it's not quiet when your anguish is wrapped up in a ribbon and smothered with a bow,

Likened to a quirk, an eccentricity, a bonus trait tacked on for a little extra depth.

There’s nothing quiet about the laughter when you’re at the other end of it.


Mental illness is not quiet. But there’s something quiet about the way we pretend it is.

We see it in faded monochrome, muted like our protests

Because we know bipolar isn’t being spontaneous or excitable or inconsistent

It’s spending money you don’t have on things you don’t need and sobbing in your car and isolation and darkness and going fast fast fast and then going

Nowhere at all

But they use us to describe the weather, call us unstable, unhinged, unacceptable

There’s something quiet about the way our voices are wrung from our throats.


There's something beautiful about mental illness.

And when I say beautiful I don't mean having one because there's nothing pretty 

About wondering if you're real or hating yourself and we are sick of being romanticized

Scars do not ruin and scars do not taint, but they aren’t to be glamorized and neither is death by

Malnutrition because society tells us imperfections can be whittled away if we take up as little space as possible

As if those things we call failings aren’t named as such by society itself, as if beauty and worth are two sides of the same coin and not currencies of countries whose languages share not even an alphabet.

We can no longer pretend there’s beauty in praising disordered eating when

All of us are made of flaws

And those are what make us beautiful.

We deserve respect, autonomy, justice, fairness, love, and if they can’t see past the marks 

On our skin, then they aren’t worth the salt in our tears.


There’s nothing beautiful about mental illness. What I mean is the struggle against it.

When you face it head-on and realize that this is not your fault and this is not your choice. 

You can hate it for all its torture, all its pain, all the suffering it's put you through, 

But don't ever hate yourself for what it's done to you. 

Fight it with every cell, every synapse, fight it and beat it because if I can do it, so can you.


Make no mistake. I don’t offer any cures, because what’s in our brains can’t be erased with soap and a washrag or a self-help book and herbal tea. 

We cannot be fixed because we are not broken. We are different. And we writhe in the grasp 

Of our thoughts and it seems like this will never end, but we will heal.

We will grow. We will strengthen each other, empower each other, hold each other up

And we will survive. We will see the dawn of a day where we wake without fear.

Without hatred, without anger, without an abyss where our stomachs should be.

This is a struggle and it's going to dismantle you again and again as you piece yourself together, 

But never stop fighting because together, you and I can find the beauty in this struggle.

©Kaylee Schuler

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