I am 15 years old and my mother was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when I was 5, my brother was diagnosed with schizophrenia when I was 10, and I have recently been diagnosed with OCD and GAD. I need to stress just how important a community is for someone with a mental illness. My mother has no friends because of the way her bipolar disorder affects her communication skills probably triggers something in peoples’ heads that, “whoa, this person isn’t normal.” This type of treatment is fairly the same for my brother, whom is struggling to return to post-secondary education and also has lost connection to old friends. I hate this judgment, this awful stigma, that has caused mothers of my friends to isolate my own mother and gossip about her in private. This angers me and brings me to tears as her daughter. I don’t see my mom as a psycho-maniac. I see her as MY MOM, who loves me, is a kind person, and would never do harm. The same goes for my brother. The problem is, when people know you have a mental disorder, that is all they define you as. “You are bipolar, so you must be irresponsible and change your personality all the time.” “You are schizophrenic, so you will never have a firm grasp on reality.” “You have OCD, so you must be a freaky perfectionist.” I do not see these labels as definitions of individuals. I see them as struggles that some people have to battle in order to live a healthy life as their TRUE self. And I hate this other whiny, ignorant thing: that if you have a mental disorder, you are not good at anything you do and you are worthless. My mother is bipolar, so she “must” be a bad mother. My brother is schizophrenic, so he will “never” go back to school. And this ignorance brings so much additional hatred, misunderstanding, and stigma, because once you are labeled a bad mother or someone who cannot get a job, who must be on a disability pension, then society begins to see you as a leech. People with mental disorders are not leeches. They are not using their disorders as an “excuse.” What they need is proper help, understanding, and compassion, so that they can achieve a healthier mental status and then make their stand as a member of society.