I’ve been inspired by caitiward to help stop the stigma against people suffering from mental illness. Because up until recently I didn’t know what it meant to live with a mental illness. Because up until recently I thought I was just tired and that I was just in a rough patch that would improve and that losing interest in certain things was just me maturing and becoming my own person.
Did you know that these are three of the most ignored symptoms of clinical depression? Because I didn’t until it was almost too late, until I was crying over a bloody knife with the marks on my wrists. I didn’t think I was depressed, I thought I was angry because I was so tired and life wasn’t getting any better. I thought that I was fine until I finally realized I wasn’t.
I got into therapy, I talked about things that I had kept repressed and hidden for years of my life out of fear of what would happen if I spoke about them. And as I sat in that room with people looking at me and listening and sympathizing with my pain I realized that a weight had been lifted off of my mind. I didn’t have to go through this alone, I didn’t have to fight my problems alone and within those four walls I was safe.
But outside those walls there is this world: a world where people with depression are treated like lepers, a place where the scars on my wrists are noticed before I can even speak. A world where I am looked at differently when I tell a friend I have to leave for therapy, a world where I was silenced when I tried to report being sexually assaulted because I also suffer from schizophrenia so I must have imagined the assault.
Did I ask for the trauma of having to face my assaulter every day for another two years? Did I ask to be abused as a child? Did I ask to be treated like I’m some sort of criminal because I suffer from a mental illness? No, I didn’t. But I am. And it needs to stop. Just because I have schizophrenia does not mean I will go around screaming nonsense and speaking to invisible people and going on killing sprees. Just because I have depression does not mean I am going to sit in corners and mope all day and carve my pain into my flesh.
I will still get out of bed, even though it is hard. I will go to school, I will talk to my friends and I will spend time with those I love, even though I may struggle to get through it. I will write, I will draw, I will create things that are solely for my eyes to see because it’s better to let it out. I will keep talking about my problems until they aren’t problems anymore. I will have good days, I will have bad days and I will have days where I will feel like everything is perfect. Even on the bad days, I will try my best to keep moving forward because I cant let the negative hold me back from achieving the positive. Mental illness does not define me. While it may hold me back sometimes, it does not make me less of a person. I’m still the same person I was before, I will never stop being myself. Stop treating the mentally ill as though we aren’t capable of functioning and living life. We’re just people.