When it comes to mental illness, it is still an abstract concept to many people. Some people just don't understand how people can be depressed or anxious or suicidal. On top of that, the stigma surrounding mental health is still pervasive even after all of the progress that has been made to try and educate people. Mental illness does not render someone incapable of leading a fulfilling life or having real, meaningful relationships. So, I'd like to take a moment to introduce myself, I'm Ilyssa, and I'm mentally ill, but I'm no different from you.
I'm mentally ill, but I'm not incapable of holding a job. If anything, my mental illness is what pushed me to pursue a career in the mental health field. I currently work as a peer support specialist for a mental health clinic, and I know I wouldn't be nearly as passionate as I am if it weren't for my firsthand experience. My job has actually helped me gain a better understanding of mental illness as a whole, and it has even helped erase my own stigma about mental health.
I'm mentally ill, but I'm not "crazy." Remember that stigma I mentioned earlier? This is a prime example of it. I have heard so many times how people are uncomfortable with others once they learn of their mental illness. I have been "othered" so many times because of my illness that I sometimes hesitate to tell people. My mental illness does not make me "crazy." As a matter of fact, how about we stop using that term to describe mentally ill people? Why don't we, instead, educate ourselves on different illnesses? It may seem simple but the word "crazy" has so much negative connotation associated with it that it might unknowingly change people's perceptions.
I'm mentally ill, but I'm not dangerous. I will not "snap." I will not "fly off the handle." I am a normal person just like you. I can be trusted. You are in no danger by being around me. Yes, some mentally ill people are dangerous, but don't allow the individuals that you see being pushed as "unstable" on television influence your idea of mentally ill people as a whole. Most mentally ill people don't appear to be anything like what the media portrays. Get to know someone with a mental illness; you'll be surprised how normal they truly are.
I'm mentally ill, but I'm not handicapped. Please do not dumb things down for me because you are afraid I can't handle it. I am an adult, and I would like to be referred to as one. You wouldn't talk down to a person with a broken leg, so don't talk down a person with mental illness. We are just as bright and knowledgeable as any other human.
I'm mentally ill, but I'm not unloveable. I am capable of love, and I am capable of acknowledging love. I will not abuse you or take from you without giving back. I love those around me dearly, and I know that they love me in return. My mental illness might make me afraid of being alone, but I will never let it make me abusive.
I'm mentally ill, but I am not a sob story. I refuse to feel sorry for myself. Some days, it is so hard to make myself get out of bed, but I fight within myself to push through. When I tell you my depression is acting up, I don't need you to coddle me. Supporting someone is different from babying them, and no depressed person wants to be pandered to.
I am mentally ill, but I am whole. I am a person. I have goals and dreams. I am driven to do the things that I dream of, and I just so happen to have a mental illness. My mental illness does not make me who I am, and it never will. I am strong despite what my brain likes to tell me. My chemical imbalance in my brain is not my personality, and no mentally ill person should be defined by the diagnosis on a chart.