I was diagnosed with depression at 12-years-old. Being that young, I didn’t know anything about depression. How could I? At that age, my main concerns were what clothes my Barbie was going to wear and keeping my Tamagotchi alive.
As time went on, I felt instantly separated from my peers. When you’re that young, you just want to fit in with others. Long before bullying awareness began, being different from other kids made you more at risk to be made fun of.
Although I tried to hide my mental health problems, they still affected how I reacted with people, which ultimately led to me being bullied. And when I was diagnosed with anxiety and PTSD during my teenage years, it resulted in even greater fear that no one would ever accept me. I was ashamed and terrified to be judge.
Unfortunately, this didn’t end when I became an adult. Childhood insults like “stupid” or “dumb” became “crazy” or “unstable”.
Unfortunately, being called crazy is very common for people who are struggling, especially women. It’s become the norm to associate them with these hurtful remarks.
But that’s the thing about mental illness: It creates a barrier between you and those without it.
Society has the tendency to judge what they don’t understand. If you have depression, you can never be happy. If you have anxiety, you can’t form meaningful connections with people or step out of your comfort zone. If you have PTSD, everyone has to tip toe around you. If you have any type of mental problem, you can’t control your emotions.
These stigmas surrounding mental illness makes it even harder for those who are struggling with it.
That’s why it’s time to end these preconceived notions about mental illness, in which the world has forced upon those who are struggling.
Why can’t you be living with depression, but also be happy? Why can’t you have anxiety and still have meaningful relationships? Because you can. Is it easy for everyone with these illnesses? No, but I have a very good feeling that without this stigma, it would be much easier.
But putting a stop to this issue isn’t going to be easy. In order to do this, we have to reject an entire belief system. We have to establish ourselves in a way that shows the world that people living with mental illnesses are just the same as those living without it.
This barrier between ‘us’ and ‘them’ needs to be torn down so that we can all coexist together, without having the fear of being judged for something we didn’t choose to live with.
Maybe I’m asking for something that will never happen. After all, we all have different perceptions and some of us have a more fixed mindset than others. But, if there’s one thing that living with mental illness has taught me, is that anything is possible if you just try.