My Mental Illness Isn't A Punchline

My Mental Illness Isn't A Punchline

So why do I treat it like one?

New year, same old me. I see no reason to start 2018 with a reinvention of myself. Honestly, any quality of mine that was terrible enough to warrant change should already be different by now. If I haven't changed it, it's not a problem, or, it's so much of a problem that I I'm still not really sure what to do about it. That's settled.

There is, however, one tiny thing that I'm committing to changing right now. It's not because of the new year - I'm a woman of my word - but I happened to recognize this truly terrible personal character trait right as 2017 was closing up, so this timing is pure coincidence. This is not a New Year's Resolution. This is me trying to be a better human, because I am constantly trying to improve myself. Not because a 7 changing to an 8 inspired me with the will and passion of one million suns and moons. Or whatever.

With that cleared up, let me jump right in to a brutal criticism of my biggest personality flaw to date: I make a lot of jokes about mental illness.

I was on a crowded subway earlier this month and, out loud, with no regard for the strangers within earshot, proclaimed: "If I don't kill myself today it will literally be a miracle." (Side note, I also say literally far too frequently but there's simply nothing to be done about that.)

So yeah, that's me. I joke about wanting to die at least ten times a day and I joke about wanting to make myself throw up and I joke about being "crazy".And I wish I could blame it on ignorance or indifference but I can't. Because I deal with mental illness on the daily, and I'm aware of the impact words can have on someone suffering from mental illnesses. I know that mental illness is turned into a punchline, or a trend, or a relatable meme way too often. I know that the way mental illness is spoken about needs to change in order for it to be taken seriously, because even though millions of people suffer, mental disorders are still treated as throwaway diagnoses.

I can't even say that it's a coping mechanism, because the fact is, I'm not hiding from anything. I'm perfectly comfortable talking about difficult emotions and personal experiences. I don't shy away from sharing my own battles with mental illness because I recognize the importance that has in normalizing struggling and in advocating for mental health equality.

I joke about mental illness because I don't take it seriously. I don't take it seriously because sometimes it is hard to take myself seriously, to validate my own emotions, and because I have been shown repeatedly that it isn't a big deal.

Mental illness IS a big deal. It's not something to shy away from but it's not something to joke about either. For my own sake, for the sake of my friends, for the sake of anyone else out there who struggles daily to not only deal with their mental illness, but to recognize it as real and valid, I'm done joking. I can't advocate for mental health equality while I'm simultaneously undermining the severity of these issues.

In an effort to be a more decent human, to respect the validity of my own emotions, and to respect the importance of mental health, I'm trying to stop with the jokes. My mental health shouldn't be treated as a punchline, but before others validate it, I need to learn to acknowledge it myself.

Cover Image Credit: Volkan Olmez

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Ultra Light Beam

A love one can always brighten a dark mind.

Before indulging in this poem I just want to remind you that if you ever feel this way or you can relate a little too much to the things I say, please seek help and don't be afraid. I write this poem so people can be aware of you. For some of out there, these words are meaningless and don't hold true. For others, they are what we fight against and what we are going through. So once again, if this is you please seek help. If this is a friend you know, please seek help. If you don't want to talk to someone who can't relate to you then talk to me. Whatever the situation may just know you are not alone. You Are Never Alone.

For any University of Maryland students seeking help for you or a friend please schedule an initial appointment, also called an intake appointment call (301) 314-7651 or stop by the Counseling Center reception desk on the main level of Shoemaker Building.

For anyone else out there seeking help or help for a friend please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline-1800-273-8255.

They say we can't run from our problems so Is death the key? Answer me this, why do I feel so imprisoned in the land of the free?

Why aren't I brave in the home of the brave? Why am I still a slave when there are no more slaves?

Suicide is for the weak minded is what I use to say. But now my mind is weak every day. Will I ever be saved?

My eyes are open, but it's dark all around. The walls I've been imprisoned by feel as if they will never fall down.

I look up to the heavens, but I see just a sky. I bow my head and pretend to close my eyes. To God I pray if he even hears.

His answers to me are never clear. Water run from my eyes, just worthless tears. I scream I need someone to save, me but there's no one nears.

The path I lead, I hope for success. I strive and I grieve, for this life is a mess. Fear not I am told, for child you are blessed.

I still put the gun to my head while holding my breath. Do I dare pull the trigger and stop the dark thoughts? If I point it at my fellow man would it still be considered my fault?

My mind is poisoned, no human should live this way. On this earth, I feel like a cancer that won't go away. I am mentally unstable or "intellectually disabled" according to the APA. But it's because of my intellect, that I act this way.

I rely on narcotics to make the pain go away. I am not an addict, but without them I can't go a day. The pain is not physical, but mentally it drives me insane.

Like a human’s flesh engulfed by a scorching flame. I feel the burn, but I am not hot. Rage, rage, rage be one to not. A beam of light piercing, but the light isn't something to view.

Unlike the everlasting pain, it is something of new. I hope it can shine light upon me and overcome the evils I will do.

It feels so soothing like the way the ocean moves. The beam of light is love that is ever so true. For I am just flesh so an Angel you must be. God saw my darkness and planted you in front of me.

You defeated my demons, my entire fleet. Your hands cresses my skin, now I can hardly breathe. Effortlessly you bring me to my knees and bring out the best side of me.

Now I know my life must go on for sure just so that we can be. My dearest Angel I thank God for bringing you to me.

My prison, this body of mine is no longer needed, an empty vessel it shall be. You have set my soul free. In my darkness, you still glowed.

You stepped in my drought and it became a steady flow. You loved my mind, even the side that no one knows.

The dark side you embraced and your light you showed. How can I wreak havoc with such a peaceful soul? I thank you for keeping me under control.

Resources that are available to those of you who feel this way:

National Suicide Prevention Hotline-1800-273-8255

Cover Image Credit: Finding Serenity

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5 Ways To Get Out Of A Slump

Don't fall down that rabbit hole.

It happens to all of us.

At some point in the semester, we fall into a slump.

We stop doing our homework and going to office hours, and we start looking up excuses to miss class. Once that that lump sets in, there's always a hard time getting out of it.

Here are eight ways to move away from that.

1. Clean.

Clean everything, not just your room, but the entire apartment. Once that's done, clean yourself.

Hop in the shower, wash your hair, shave your legs and exfoliate. Once that's done, you'll feel better about yourself, and you'll be much more enthusiastic about waking up the next morning.

2. Keep up with your regular schedule.

As tempting as it is to skip class in the morning, that would be a surefire way to fall down the rabbit hole. Skipping classes will only make you feel worse and will only add to all the pressure you're probably feeling.

Sometimes the best way to get over something is to move through it, and remember that the weekend is only five short days away.

3. Go to the gym.

Working out releases endorphins, and endorphins make us happy. As a person who doesn’t go to the gym often, I find that I get an extra boost after I go to the gym, like a larger sense of accomplishment.

4. Go for a walk.

Put your headphones on and just walk around. Clear your mind and see how you feel afterward.

Sometimes you just need to change your environment.

5. Cook.

Like a workout, cooking will give you an additional sense of accomplishment. Adding it to your routine can make it something that adds variety to your daily life.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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