Mental illness is no joke, but recently it has become a fad to claim to have an illness when actually you're just throwing a bunch of words around. I'm not saying the average person doesn't have down days or things that make them nervous—we all have those things. However, claiming to have a mental illness when it's "just one of those days," is actually very hurtful to people, like me, who do struggle daily. If I had to describe what I go through on a daily basis, it would be something like this:
You know that little voice in your head, the voice you hear when you type on your keyboard or while reading? Imagine that voice in your head constantly critiquing everything you do, everything you say. It doesn't even have to be recent, things you did a decade ago can resurface in your mind and not leave. It starts as soon as you wake up and stays until you go to bed. It is everywhere. It's a silent struggle most of the time—if I don't tell you it's happening then you won't know. I can be hanging out with a group of friends while battling with myself in my head, trying to control my breathing while my palms are pools of sweat and my heart is beating a mile a minute. I've become a master at hiding.
One time, I had a panic attack and fainted in Chipotle. It is when that voice was suddenly quiet that everything went bad. Prior to the silence, I had so many thoughts spiraling through my head—it sounded like a million different voices and I wasn't able to differentiate my voice from all of the people speaking around me. My body went numb, my vision went dark and my heart felt like it was exploding. The only thing I heard was my head hitting the floor. I woke up about 20 seconds later, according to my friend. I just remember people screaming that I wasn't breathing, that they were going to call the police and then I was surrounded by people.
It isn't just one day out of the week, it's every single day. It's not being able to cross the road because you are scared that someone in their car waiting for you to cross is angry at you, even when you have the right of way to cross. It's when you enjoy being alone, but being alone is also when the thoughts cloud your mind the most. It's being in class and fidgeting with anything you can get your hands on in order to hopefully distract your mind from the thoughts racing through it. The reality of mental illness is not cool or trendy, it's having to rely on pills everyday, but that doesn't necessarily mean that everything is fine and dandy because even while typing this you've had to wipe your keyboard four times due to how much sweat has dripped from your hands from knowing that your family will read this, and you've never told them how you truly feel daily.
Saying that you have a mental illness is different from living with mental illness. It isn't just a "slump" that you can get over. If it is, then you probably don't have anything wrong with you except that you use WebMD way too much and you use medical terms without knowledge of how living with these disorders can be crippling. I'm not where I want to be yet mentally, I'm still learning how to overcome my daily struggles. However my anxiety, depression, and PTSD will not tear me down, and all who suffer from mental illness please do not give up! But to those of you who use these words to describe your everyday emotions, please stop. Having a mental illness is not something you want to have to live with, it is not glamorous.
Rest In Peace Talia (1996-2016)