Saying And Experiencing Are Two Different Things

Saying And Experiencing Are Two Different Things

Saying that you have a mental illness is different from living with mental illness.
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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)

Cover Image Credit: Christian Sampson

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An Open Letter To The Girl Trying To Get Healthy Again

"I see you eating whatever you want and not exercising" - Pants
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Dear girl trying to get back in shape,

I know it's hard. I know the hardest thing you may do all day is walk into the gym. I know how easy it is to want to give up and go eat Chicken McNuggets, but don't do it. I know it feels like you work so hard and get no where. I know how frustrating it is to see that person across the table from you eat a Big Mac every day while you eat your carrots and still be half of your size. I know that awful feeling where you don't want to go to the gym because you know how out of shape you are. Trust me, I know.

SEE ALSO: To The Girl Trying To Lose Weight In College


The important thing is you are doing something about it. I'm sure you get mad at yourself for letting your body get this out of shape, but life happens. You have made a huge accomplishment by not having a soda in over a month, and those small changes are huge. I understand how hard it is, I understand how frustrating it is to not see results and I understand why you want to give up. Being healthy and fit takes so much time. As much as I wish you could wake up the day after a good workout with the 6 pack of your dreams, that just isn't the reality. If being healthy was easy, everyone would do it, and it wouldn't feel so good when you got there.

Remember how last January your resolution was to get back in the gym and get healthy again? Think about how incredible you would look right now if you would have stuck with it. The great thing is that you can start any time, and you can prove yourself wrong.

Tired of starting over? Then don't give up.

You are only as strong as your mind. You will get there one day. Just be patient and keep working.

Nothing worth having comes easy. If you want abs more than anything, and one day you woke up with them, it wouldn't be nearly as satisfying as watching your body get stronger.

Mental toughness is half the battle. If you think you are strong, and believe you are strong, you will be strong. Soon, when you look back on the struggle and these hard days, you will be so thankful you didn't give up.

Don't forget that weight is just a number. What is really important is how you feel, and that you like how you look. But girl, shout out to you for working on loving your body, because that shit is hard.

To the girl trying to get healthy again, I am so proud of you. It won't be easy, it will take time. But keep working out, eating right, and just be patient. You will be amazed with what your body is capable of doing.

Cover Image Credit: Stock Snap

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Dealing With Self-Harm And Overcoming It

Mental health matters and overcoming it is possible.

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Recently, there has been a controversy over whether mental illness is a real illness or not. After dealing with depression, anxiety, self-harm, and suicidal thoughts since I was 13, I can give my opinion that mental illness IS, in fact, an illness.

This past Monday, I reached an extensive milestone in my life. I am now one year clean of self-harm. Whenever my issue first arose, I never believed I would be able to pass it. I believed that it would be something I dealt with for the rest of my life. Mental illness is not something that you choose. It pops up out of the blue one day and takes control of your life. You let it manipulate you and take advantage of your weaknesses and hold power over you. I let it hold power over me for six years. Finally, I found the courage to break out of that manipulation and take control of my own life again.

Self-harm was a part of my routine for such a long time that I never expected it to go away. It was there in my times of sadness, my times of anger, and my times of need. I believed it to be my only source of comfort. I believed that it would solve all of my problems. In the end, I found out I was wrong. Hurting and damaging myself and leaving behind scars was not going to help me out of this state of mind, even if it felt like my only option. I had to hide underneath sweaters and jackets and cardigans for so long that I didn't want to do it anymore. Wearing long-sleeved shirts and hoodies in the dead of summer and being asked why I was wearing them never got easier. I figured the first step in starting my recovery was to stop hiding who I was and to let my scars be free.

Being free was what I decided to do. I let my scars be seen, which was completely terrifying at first. I thought that everyone around me would notice them and have something to say about me. I expected to be called a freak. Luckily, no one even noticed. That was almost comforting to me–to realize that I didn't need to hide what wouldn't be noticed. After a while, though, those closest to me took notice. They asked me "Why would you do this to yourself?" over and over again with tears in their eyes. I told them that I felt like it was my only solution to deal with all the hurt and the pain I had collected over the years. That's when I noticed I wasn't hurting just myself. That was when I decided to try becoming a happier and healthier person.

Now here I am, one year later: No self-harm, no thoughts of suicide, and feeling less depressed and anxious. I took back control of my own life. Being public about my problems was something I never believed I would do, but I realized that it actually helped me grow as a person. It was freeing to be able to share my experiences and not be embarrassed. Sure, every once in a while I had a few mental breakdowns, but I held back the "need" to harm myself to make the pain go away.

I turned to another thing to make the pain go away: My friends. I never realized how much love I had around me. I always pushed it away. I had someone to listen to me and help get me through my tough time. I didn't need to keep everything bottled up and harm myself to make it feel better. I had love and comfort–two of the strongest things in the world. I had finally started on the road to health and happiness and I wasn't making any pit stops along the way.

Mental illness occurs more often than you think and signs are being shown everywhere. If you know someone suffering, don't be afraid to reach out and give them some help or just a shoulder to cry on. If you or a person you know is having suicidal thoughts, please don't be afraid to call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

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