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Things I Have Learned From My Mental Illness

By Tori Sasaki

1. Life moves on. Even when you think you will be ruminating about a past

event or future worry until the end of time, you won’t. It may stick with you

for a while or come back at an inconvenient moment, but life happens

whether you’re constantly worrying or not, so that fear that you thought

would be dominating your life forever most likely won’t be.

2. Life is messy. I’m a huge perfectionist, so for practically my whole life I’ve

been trying to live my life perfectly. In school it was about perfect grades. In

college, it was about turning in an absolutely flawless almost 200-page thesis.

At work, it was about never sending an email with a typo or getting anything

wrong. However, all of these are impossible goals, and I’ve realized that if I

spend my life with tunnel vision focused on perfection, I will miss out on so

many beautiful aspects of life, like time with the people that I love, learning

from my mistakes, and taking chances on things outside of my comfort zone.

3. Life contains unavoidable risk. I have both generalized anxiety disorder and

OCD, which has made risk my mortal enemy for years and years. It seems

obvious, but one of the major lessons that I learned in therapy was that in

order to live your life you have to embrace risk to some extent. Also,

compulsions that are aimed at eliminating or significantly reducing risk do

not work. They definitely can’t completely eliminate risk because that’s

impossible, and you have to make peace with the idea that good enough is

good enough (something my therapist also emphasized which has stuck with

me). Yes, you should wash your hands well after using the bathroom, but is it

really helpful to repeatedly wash your hands after the first few times weren’t

up to your impossible standards? Is it helpful to wash your hands until they

crack and bleed? No, it isn’t.

4. Use your voice. I used to often stop myself from speaking up about issues that

I care about due to fears that I didn’t know enough information or that I

might somehow get in trouble for openly supporting something that some

deemed “controversial.” However, I also love to talk about anything and

everything, and I believe strongly in the power of open and honest

discussion. Speaking out can lift up those who are marginalized, can make

people feel less alone, and can help enact real change. It’s so important and

I’ve promised myself that I will no longer be silent about issues that are

important to me, whether they directly affect me or not. I’ve been so inspired

recently by the Black Lives Matter movement, the Instagram mental health

community, and books like Audre Lorde’s Your Silence Will Not Protect You.

5. You are not alone. Whatever it is that you’re experiencing, there is someone

else out there who is experiencing it too. Seek community, and seek out

therapy if you possibly can.


The Exposure Project thanks Tori for allowing us to share her story with you. You can find Tori on Instagram @Truthfullytori_

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