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Mental Health

Ending the stigma of mental illness– I’m not afraid to admit I have one

TW: self-harm, depression, anxiety 

 

I’m not afraid to admit that I suffer from a mental illness. When I was growing up, there seemed to be a stigma about mental illnesses. If you told someone that you suffer from depression, they’ll just tell you to get over it. If you told someone you’re bipolar, they’ll tell you that you’re crazy. We need to stop these harmful assumptions about mental illnesses. We need to stop pushing people away when they tell us they are struggling. I suffer from mental illnesses and here is my story.

I remember having feelings of depression and anxiety for a long time, probably since I was a teenager. I really didn’t know what to make of it. I just thought I was sad at first. I was sad every day, but I figured these feelings would go away eventually. They did not. 

I honestly had no idea where to turn. When I was 16 I started thinking I suffered from depression and anxiety, but I didn’t want to self-diagnose myself. I didn’t have insurance at the time so I couldn’t go to the doctor. I didn’t know how to talk to my parents about it– I felt awkward about it. I really didn’t know where to turn. I felt depressed, lonely and lost. Looking back, I wish I had the resources I do now when I didn’t know what to do.

When I turned 18, I finally had my own insurance and I went to the doctors one day. I finally decided to talk to someone about my feelings of depression and anxiety. I was so scared to talk to someone about my feelings because I was always taught to just “get over it”. But my doctor listened to me. She listened to me talk about my feelings of depression and anxiety. She told me what I can do. She also prescribed me an anti-depressant called Zoloft. It took about a month for the medication to kick in, but I was feeling better. It felt good to have it off my chest, to finally tell someone how I’ve felt all these years. It felt nice to have someone listen rather than be annoyed with me. 

I still struggle with my mental illness. I had a few bad periods of depression and self-harm a year ago. I started talking to a therapist regularly and I had my anti-depressant medication adjusted appropriately. I now go to my therapist every month and I take Lexapro every day. It took me most of my life to realize it’s okay to struggle with a mental illness. It’s okay to take anti-depressants. Don’t let anyone tell you that you are weak because you ask for help for your illness. Don’t feel bad about taking medications. Not all of us can produce enough serotonin that we need to be happy. Don’t feel bad for being different and don’t let anyone else make you feel like less of a person for struggling. 450 million people worldwide suffer from a mental illness. You’re not alone. 

If you know someone who is suffering from a mental illness, do not make them feel stupid for having one. Make them feel like they are cared for. Help them find the help the may need.

 

If you are looking for help but don’t know where to turn, please call: (877) 870-4673.

 

Sara is an Integrative Public Relations Major at Central Michigan University. She hopes to work in a PR agency one day, managing social media for clients. When she's not reading yet another book from one of her three bookshelves, she can be found cuddling her cats, Luna and Selene. 
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