I am mentally ill, and no, it’s not contagious.
I have depression, anxiety, and OCD, and I am NOT ashamed despite the discrimination and stigma associated with mental illness in society today.
I started my blog to connect and reach others battling chronic and mental illness, and I intended to remain anonymous. But in light of the growing community of people with mental illness who have chosen to out themselves, I’ve decided to come out too. I’m joining the fight to ending the stigma. I don’t want to perpetuate the shame and discrimination associated with mental health by continuing to hide.
million with depression
don't want someone mentally ill marrying into their family
million with anxiety disorders
don't want someone mentally ill at their workplaces
While in therapy at an eating disorder treatment center, I learned about the idea of wearing a mask to conceal ourselves from others, whether literally with a painted face of makeup or figuratively by pretending to feel happy when we feel broken inside.
The mask that I wear…
…Represents who I think I should be, what I want people to see, what I wish I could be.
…Portrays someone who is content, happy, strong and brave.
…Conceals my feelings of isolation and loneliness.
Without my mask, I feared I’d be unwanted, unlovable, unwelcome, and ashamed.
Despite these fears, society’s acceptance of millions of others as they “come out” about their mental illness has inspired me to do the same. It’s time to take off the mask.
The depression and anxiety started when I was seventeen. I was referred to a psychologist specializing in mindfulness and relaxation techniques by my primary care doctor because of my IBS and what I now know to be pelvic floor dysfunction.
I started anti-depressants and anti-anxiety meds the following year, but as things with my other health conditions got worse, my mental health continued to deteriorate. The meds weren’t working, I was ashamed to talk to anyone about it besides my parents, and because they were uninformed, my parents believed in “mind over matter” and thought meds weren’t necessary.
A new psychiatrist, med changes, and additional therapy led to an additional diagnosis and years of more unsuccessful outcomes. When one health condition acted up, all of the others got even worse. Every doctor liked to pass the buck: the depression is because of the fibromyalgia, the IBS is because of the depression, the pelvic floor dysfunction is because of the fibromyalgia, and so on and so forth. I can’t even count how many times I’ve heard the “chicken or the egg?” speech. But regardless, no one was positively affecting anything.
At a certain point, I felt like I was swimming upstream. I didn’t feel like fighting anymore and was making plans to take my life.
I wish back then I had known someone who’d actually been where I was and gotten to the other side. Fortunately enough, I had my sister. But millions of others suffering today aren’t as fortunate.
I was able to find something that worked for me at that point in my life and get me to the other side, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT).
(Read more about my story at My Chronic Illness Battle.)
My point is that the more accepting we are of mental illness, the less ashamed we’ll be to talk about it, to seek help for it and to be it.
We are fighters. We are warriors. We are survivors. And that shouldn’t be something to feel ashamed of.
I want to end the stigma of mental illness. I want to lessen the power it has today.
When Speaking of Their Mental Health…
I had dogs that I loved and tons of friends and I was getting adoration from fans and I was happy with my work, but I couldn’t figure out what it was; it doesn’t always make sense is my point. It’s not just people who can’t find a job, or can’t fit in in society that struggle with depression sometimes.Jared Padalecki
You have no idea where the darkest times of your life might end, so you have to just keep going.Ellen DeGeneres
It’s so difficult to describe depression to someone who’s never been there, because it’s not sadness. But it’s that cold absence of feeling — that really hollowed-out feeling.J. K. Rowling
I deserve to be happy and smiling. Why not me?Kid Cudi
I’ll be the face of BPD. I’ll make myself vulnerable if it saves someone’s life.Brandon Marshall
… you just feel like you’re alone. You feel like it’s only you. You’re in your bubble. And I wish I had someone at that time who could just pull me aside and say, “Hey, it’s gonna be OK. It’ll be OK.”Dwayne Johnson
I would ask my mom to tell me exactly how the day was going to be, then ask again 30 seconds later. I just needed to know that no one was going to die and nothing was going to change.Emma Stone
There’s nothing weak about struggling with mental illness. For me, depression is not sadness. It’s not having a bad day and needing a hug. It gave me a complete and utter sense of isolation and loneliness. Its debilitation was all-consuming, and it shut down my mental circuit board. I felt worthless, like I had nothing to offer, like I was a failure.Kristen Bell
Until recently, I lived in denial and isolation and in constant fear someone would expose me.Mariah Carey
I used to think I was a drug addict, pure and simple — just someone who could not stop taking drugs willfully. And I was that. But it turns out that I am severely manic-depressive. You can’t stop. It’s very painful. It’s raw. You know, it’s rough… your bones burn… when you’re not busy talking and trying to drown it out.Carrie Fisher
I wish I could have told my younger self that something will work — it’s just going to take sometimes more research, sometimes more referrals, and really figuring things out like your life depends on it. Because for me, it did.Mayim Bialik
I felt this inertia that would come over me. You think of something and it just seems too much, too hard. That’s how it manifested in me.Glenn Close
… there are people who feel that exact same thing and have made it through that. I would say more than anything, you’re not alone in it.Pete Wentz