Creative writing serves as a powerful catalyst inviting people to self-reflect on lived experiences with mental health challenges. Living in a chaotic world, particularly now with COVID-19, it can be easy to simply go with the motions or dismiss emotions. Provoking the need to pause, creative writing calls action to better understand our own thoughts, feelings and experiences. When shared with others, it acts as an educational tool to increase awareness and acceptance of those with mental health challenges, and brings attention to certain issues like stigmatizing attitudes. 

In recent times, there has been an increase in conversations surrounding mental health and yet, the misconception that those with mental illnesses are inherently weak persists. This myth is harmful to those with mental illnesses, for they may internalize the message, blame themselves and manifest learned helplessness, shame and frustration. The catastrophic effects stemming from this particular stigma must be eradicated for in reality, those with mental illnesses are not weak and broken. Rather, they are mental health warriors because despite having odds stacked up against them, they are still functioning to the best of their abilities. This alone is an amazing feat considering that they deal with bullies in their heads who relentlessly push their limits and deem them unworthy. They never wanted mental illnesses, but they are doing their best and that simply has to be enough.

 Hope slithers in from unexpected places
 where strange happiness resides.
 A foreign concept that once used to be a friendly companion.
  
 From a young age, that innocent happiness was chased away by something much more sinister--
 a type of darkness not meant for the weak to handle.
 It selectively picks the ones strong enough to fight the battle.
 Indeed, there is no such thing as pitiful victims.
  
 We mental health warriors are fighting a battle we never signed up for.
 Dodging left and right, we hope to survive just one more day.
  
 Shielding others from our gray lens,
 we put on a façade to assure others that we are okay.
 For we must be okay, right?
  
 We carry the burden of our dead weight and trudge through the day,
 hoping to see the light hidden behind corners.
  
 We fight on the battlefield everyday,
 strategically avoiding danger
 and heading towards a safe haven,
 just to catch a breath momentarily.
  
 Jumping over explosives
 and running away from ambushes,
 we are always on the alert.
  
 With keen eyes,
 we analyze our surroundings
 and determine how to go about the day.
  
 Supplied with weapons,
 we are always on guard,
 never falling victim to desolation.
  
 Even on the days when our feet feel like bricks,
 we march on
 and chant for a better life.
  
 We are truly warriors
 for we may not be okay,
 but we will be one day. 

Guest Blogger: Jennifer Wendell, MHA Intern

Jennifer Wendell is a Senior, double majoring in Human Services- Clinical Concentration and Sociology at the University of Delaware. She is currently interning with MHA, and hopes to become a helping professional in the mental health field.