I have been mentally ill since I can remember, but I didn’t get diagnosed until I was 16. Then the battles began. Medicine and their side affects, hospitals, and the stigma. Overhearing people in the street talking to each other, and words like ‘psycho’, ‘schizo’, and ‘crazy’ coming out of their mouths. Being a teenager was hard enough, but being mentally ill as well was a double whammy. I don’t usually tell people at first that I have an illness, because of the stigma. It’s hard to date and have friendships when you have to carry around a secret that shouldn’t be a secret in the first place. I can’t help the fact that I was born with this, and I don’t think it’s right that I am considered in a negative light for it. I am just like everyone else, I have friends, I like music, I go to the movies and the supermarket, I breath the same air. The only difference is, I get a different kind of sick sometimes.
Stigma is a debilitating thing for me because I want a career specializing in childcare. Unless they really understand, or have a family member who has a mental illness, what parent would let someone who has a mental illness near their child? This mentality is thanks to stigma, and it HAS to change. I believe ending Stigma starts with a conversation, so I share my story, and what’s it’s really like to live with something like mental illness, versus what people see in the media. I think it’s important for everyone to start talking. Not just family members, but people who live with it as well.
Let’s put a face to mental illness.