“My thought was that there’s a lot of negativity towards mental illness because of how it’s portrayed in society. Obviously, there’s the violent school shootings and horrific crimes which people get away with because they are mentally ill. I’m certainly not saying that all of them are not; however, I firmly believe this is also a defense used by attorneys to get their clients off the hook. A lot of people believe this also, and are angry that society then has to pay for the “rehabilitation” of people who should be serving time.
But because of these people who abuse the diagnoses, people who genuinely suffer from them are looked down upon as well, and a lot of people do see it as looking for an easy way out of life’s hardships. Like the students in college who got special privileges due to having disabilities. Some of them deserved them, and needed them in order to get through college. And some,were just using it as an excuse to turn things in late. But usually the other students in their classes felt animosity towards them because they were getting special treatment.
So I think a lot of the time, people grow up with these beliefs that mental illness is just a label that people give themselves in order to get special allowances. But once you know someone who has a mental illness (who’s definitely not faking it), the whole concept changes. I was always brought up to believe the same things you were. That you have to get over things yourself, and not go to others for help, because we don’t talk about feelings or messy family stuff. It’s private. Just move on, don’t think about it. But a person who truly has depression, anxiety, etc. won’t be able to get themselves out of it. Everyone gets sad. Everyone gets nervous. But sad to the point you can’t make yourself eat or get out of bed is bad. Nervous to the point that you can’t talk to someone else, because it’s too terrifying is bad. I think it might take having a real friend in that type of situation for some people to see it.
As a society, we need to educate ourselves better so that these issues aren’t life-ending. Mental Illness does not equal uselessness. People with anxiety, depression, ADHD, schizzophrenia, etc. CAN lead normal, and productive lives, with therapy and maybe meds. But there’s so much stigma regarding mental illness, that it will be a long time coming before it’s accepted and discussed. It’s been the same with other societal deviances – like suicide, cutting, or other methods of self-harm. No one talked about them, because if we don’t talk about it then it’s not real. But that’s just a load of crap.”
That quoted text above is from my friend Lori, who was talking to me about everything that I was doing with this mental health series. I cleaned it up a bit, but I think what she said is a lot of what we all say. I’ve touched on this slightly here and there through this entire series, but I’m going to be plain and honest here about the whole thing.
As I’ve mentioned, I am in the process of getting help for all of my mental health issues. I mentioned about an incident called “The Meltdown,” where I had a really bad panic attack back in November. But here’s the thing: it’s now March. I am just starting to get help. Wait, why? Why did it take me over four months to finally get help?
Because I was still trying to make it on my own.
You see, there’s a really big issue that people like me have with mental illness, and I think that Lori hit the nail on the head pretty freaking hard – there is a stigma associated with mental illness that we all try to avoid. If there’s something going on in your head, you are less apt to talk about it because of all the stigmas and thoughts that people have about it.
I know for a fact that people in my life have thought that the whole social anxiety thing was all in my head and that I just need to suck it up, which is why I’ve been so assertive when it comes to doing this series. I’m really serious about people knowing about what is going on in my head and that it’s real. My illness is real and it does not make me bad. And I hope you realize that I’m also saying this because I need to hear it for myself.
If you could know the mental anguish that I’ve gone through when writing this series, you would feel a little bit of my pain, because I am terrified that I am full of crap. That this thing is just something stupid that I’ve made up to make excuses and stuff. That I’m just lazy and that’s why I “can’t” work a “real job.”I know that people look at me that way, and it bothers me when people tease that I don’t have a “real job.” I work for my money just like you do, but I don’t end up going to somewhere other than my home because it causes me anxiety. I quit my last job because I had a panic attack at work.
If you could know the things that go through my head, you would… you may not be able to deal with it. I’m always terrified about what other people are thinking of me, I’m worried that people think I’m fat, or lazy, or worthless, or “too sick” to be able to make a difference in the world. People have tried to silence me because they think I’m too sick. And I’m freaking sick and tired of it.
Why does this happen? Because we don’t talk about mental illness. I don’t want freaking pity, I don’t want you to look at me with this thought of “Oh, poor Marti, I feel so bad for her.” No. Don’t feel bad for me. Does it suck? Absolutely. Do I want your pity? Absolutely freaking not. I’m writing these blog posts so that people understand and start a freaking conversation! People hide the mentally ill away where they won’t hurt or embarrass anyone, they push them out of work positions and volunteer positions because they think they can’t function normally, and we get treated like second class citizens.
And it’s a freaking crock of crap.
Are there people who cheat the system? Absolutely, and I wish I could give them one freaking day in my mind. Then they would see what mental illness looks like. Then they would feel every freaking bit of fear. Every time I have to go out in public, I worry that people are staring at me, staring at the benefits cards I have to use, staring at my size and what I look like and what I eat. I worry that people are talking about me and judging me, every minute of every single day. And yes, you can try and tell me that people aren’t. Heck, when I’m not in the situation, I can tell you that my fears are totally irrational, but I can do absolutely nothing about it (at this point – once I start intensive therapy and such, I will be able to. I just cannot at this point). I have panic attacks, and they make me feel as if I’m going to die. My mind starts to race, and I can’t catch it, and it goes wild and I can do absolutely nothing about it until it’s over. I have to ride it out, and then come back to reality where my mind starts all over again.
I would never want anyone to live every day like I do every single day. It’s a freaking miserable experience. It has all but destroyed my life. People have used it as an excuse to take things away from me that should have never been taken from me. And that’s why it’s important for you to read these entries, that’s why it’s important for me to talk about it. I have lost people and passions because of being “too sick.” It makes me sad, it makes me cry, it breaks my heart and sometimes I feel really, really alone. That’s why I need people. The people I’ve mentioned here, like Gretel, Brad, Lori, D, Lara, and everyone else that has played a major role in my life, are the people who take care of me through all of this. And for that, I’m thankful, because I can’t do it alone anymore.
So, if you’re reading my words – thank you. Thank you for listening to my rant and continuing to come back to this site and listen to me. If you’re one of the people who has been a part of my life, I love you and appreciate you. I would not be able to get through my life without people coming and holding my hand and helping me through.
I may be sick, but that doesn’t mean I’m abandoned. I may not always have a clear mind, but that doesn’t mean that there’s not still sun. And I may feel weak, but the fact that I’m still alive and trying to push forward indicates that I am stronger than I think.