We Need To Stop Villainizing Mental Illness

We Need To Stop Villainizing Mental Illness

Enough is enough.
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I am one of millions of people living with mental illness. I have anxiety and depression. I wasn't open about this part of myself until recently, because I was scared of the stigma that might come with being open about my mental health. I was afraid of being perceived as "crazy" or "weak" or some other awful stereotype. I am not crazy. I am not weak. I am not a violent person; in fact, I'm a pacifist. And the majority of people living with mental illnesses are not violent. They're like me; they have friends and hobbies and jobs, and they are perfectly peaceful.

So it's time that we stop villainizing mental illness. I feel like nearly every time we hear about tragedies, about massacres, the media always tells us about the "mentally-ill" people who perpetrated the crimes. We hear about their "mental instabilities" and it perpetuates the stigma surrounding mental health. It gives us this idea that people dealing with mental illness, some of the strongest people in the world, are unstable and violent and cannot be trusted.

Now, I understand that no sane, empathetic person would commit something as vile and horrible as taking the lives of other human beings. I understand that. I get that these acts do not originate from normal human nature.

But when I see a blog post by Ann Coulter titled: "Guns don't kill people, the mentally ill do," I cannot help but roll my eyes with the ignorance of it all. And the more I research what other public figures have said on the matter, the more upsetting the arguments become. After the Colorado Planned Parenthood shooting, Paul Ryan said that "one common denominator in these tragedies is mental illness." Donald Trump, possibly our future president, has said that he is against tightening gun laws, but wants to address mental health instead, saying: "this isn't a gun problem, this is a mental problem." Trump once also talked about the mental institutions of "the old days" in a positive light in an interview on CNN. Now, I cannot be sure what exactly Trump meant to refer to when he mentioned these institutions, but if my research tells me anything, psychiatric institutions of "the old days" are well-known for their abusive methods and therapies. And in 2012, the president of the National Rifle Association, Wayne LaPierre suggested the creation of "an active national database of the mentally ill," which would unfairly target the entire population of people dealing with mental illnesses, the vast majority of whom are nonviolent.

I am so sick of politicians and the media acting like the problem isn't with guns and other destructive weapons, but rather with mental health instead. By using the blanket statement of "mental illness" as the problem, they are spreading uninformed, false, and slanderous beliefs about millions of people. And for people unlike me, for people who haven't encountered mental illness in a personal way, it's easy to believe these blanket statements. It's easy to think that people dealing with mental illnesses are crazy and violent and untrustworthy. It is easy to be scared of somebody who has a mental illness. It is so easy to say that the people themselves are the problem, and that all the people like them, all the people dealing with similar issues, are going to be the problem someday too. But one person cannot do with a single body, with a pair of hands and legs, what an assault rifle can do in a matter of mere seconds. Mental health is important and should be talked about openly. But it should not be used as a scapegoat for a larger problem. Blaming the violence on an entire group of people, on peaceful people like me, only perpetuates the stigma and scares off people from reaching out and getting treatment.

The people I know in my life who have also dealt with mental illnesses are some of the best people I have ever known. They are extremely empathetic and kind. They are people who inspire me with their inner strength and courage. They are people who fight to get out of bed every day, who learn to love themselves. They are not villains. They are humans. And they are not the problem.

Cover Image Credit: Psychology Today

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17 Empowering Bible Verses For Women

You go, girl.
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We all have those days where we let the negative thoughts that we're "not good enough," "not pretty enough" or "not smart enough" invade our minds. It's easy to lose hope in these situations and to feel like it would be easier to just give up. However, the Bible reminds us that these things that we tell ourselves are not true and it gives us the affirmations that we need. Let these verses give you the power and motivation that you're lacking.

1. Proverbs 31:25

"She is clothed with strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future."

2. Psalm 46:5

"God is within her, she will not fall."

3. Luke 1:45

"Blessed is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her."

4. Proverbs 31:17

"She is energetic and strong, a hard worker."

5. Psalm 28:7

"The Lord is my strength and my shield."

6. Proverbs 11:16

"A gracious woman gains respect, but ruthless men gain only wealth."

7. Joshua 1:9

"Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."

8. Proverbs 31:30

"Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised."

9. 1 Corinthians 15:10

"By the grace of God, I am what I am."

10. Proverbs 31:26

"When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness."

11. Psalm 139:14

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made."

12. 1 Peter 3:3-4

"Don't be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God."

13. Colossians 2:10

"And in Christ you have been brought to fullness."

14. 2 Timothy 1:7

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline."

15. Jeremiah 29:11

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' says the Lord. 'They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.'"

16. Exodus 14:14

"The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm."

17. Song of Songs 4:7

"You are altogether beautiful, my darling, beautiful in every way."

Next time you're feeling discouraged or weak, come back to these verses and use them to give you the strength and power that you need to conquer your battles.

Cover Image Credit: Julia Waterbury

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Poetry On Odyssey: Some Days

A poem that reminds you that you're not alone.

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Some days,

You dread the sound of your alarm. You snooze and snooze and snooze and snooze.

When you finally pull yourself out of bed, pressed time forces you to throw on stained sweats

you find yourself chugging a cup of coffee.

You sit on the couch and contemplate calling out of work

You caught the stomach bug,

Or perhaps the flu,

Maybe you broke your collar bone

Or need a new phone

The endless list of excuses repeats through your head as you sit on the couch, wishing you were still in bed.

It takes every ounce

Every breath

Every fiber of your being to pull yourself off the couch

And into the car

And into the building where you work

Some days,

This is just how it goes

You are not alone.


Some days,

You awake to the beautiful sound of birds

Chirping outside your window

The sun sneaks its way into your room

A smile creeps across your face as you realize you are awake to see a new day

You make a good breakfast

You read a few pages of your favorite book

You get your mind ready for the things it will accomplish today

Before you know it you've worked an entire day

Your job is done

As you pull into your driveway,

you take a few breaths

Feeling grateful for another meaningful day.

Some days,

This is how it goes

You are not alone.


Every day is a gamble,

Every day is a gift

The key to getting more good days

Is believing that everyday is one.

You are not alone, this is just how it goes.

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