6 Things People Who Survive With Mental Illness Want You To Know

6 Things People Who Survive With Mental Illness Want You To Know

The stigma is real and, well, it sucks.


There is a stigma surrounding mental illnesses.

It is the topic that should be avoided.

Are you anxious? Are you depressed? Well, society says you should just bottle it all up. Pretend that it is not there.

Mental illnesses get thrown around like adjectives every day:

"My professor is so bipolar."
"If this line does not move quicker, I am going to kill myself."
"I am so OCD when it comes to my planner."
"That chick looks like she has an eating disorder."

It is wrong and it needs to be stopped. Mental illnesses need to be normalized so that people feel comfortable seeking help.

1. Mental illnesses do not equate to violence. 

"People believe that anyone with a personality disorder is automatically a threat to society or violent. My personality disorder stems from being groomed at a young age by a predator and is literally known as 'princess disorder.' The only thing it does is make me a giant flirt and I'm awkward in social situations. It doesn't make me violent at all."

2. Just because I do not eat does not mean I do not want to.

"When people heard about my eating disorder, they would ask why I do not 'just eat' (I use the quotation marks because it is not as simple as that). Just because I do not eat does not mean I do not want to. Eating disorders are a small percentage of food and a large percentage about something else. For me, it was about control. When other aspects of my life were out of control, I could always control that number on the scale and make it drop lower and lower. You cannot 'just eat' to recover; you need to address the underlying issues."

3. Worrying does not make you weak. 

"To be honest, a few people think I'm just wanting attention when I'm really just needing to talk or just have to explain myself even when nothing is necessary. For instance, when I'm worried about something small (which happens A LOT with having anxiety), I've been attacked by being called someone who causes drama and wants attention which is completely false. And it hurts a lot and makes my anxiety much worse. And people who hurt you just don't understand anything that they're doing to you. It's hard to say anything about how you feel in the first place.
"I just always seem to want to fix something when there is nothing to fix. It's really hard to explain, but if someone says something in a certain way, gives a slight attitude, or even a gesture (that can mean no harm towards me at all), I'll take it as a hit to the gut and become worried immediately that I may have caused that anger (when I have no relation to it at all).
"Which explains why I apologize nonstop.
"My anxiety with friends is horrible, and it's very hard to control... I want to be normal, ya know? Not freak out over everything. But it's hard after everything that's happened to me. But I'm not trying to make my past define me. At all. It's just unfortunately built me into someone with very small trust and a lot of anxiety into possibly doing something wrong when I've done nothing wrong at all."

4. Mental illnesses are not just adjectives that can be thrown around. 

"There are two types of bipolar: bipolar I and bipolar II. Bipolar I is the more stereotyped one, as it features more periods of mania than depression. I have bipolar II, which has more periods of depression than mania. It's common that people think that the mood swings are rapid, with mere hours occurring between the episodes. Rather, in both cases with bipolar I and bipolar II, episodes can last anywhere from weeks to months at a time. I wish people outside of the illness knew the differences and were careful with using bipolar in common day language ('You're being so bipolar today!!!')."

5) Daydreaming is not all fun and games. 

"Maladaptive daydreaming has been something that has affected me since I was a child. It is a mental disorder that compels me to imagine fanciful stories and allows me to escape to these worlds at will. Time spent imagining these stories in my head can range from several minutes to several hours. To me, it feels almost an extreme form of procrastination where all I want to do is escape to these imagined worlds where anything can happen. It provides a huge amount of mental stimulation and can be very exciting. It's not all fun and games, however. When the dreaming gets in the way of my schoolwork and hobbies, thinking about how much time I have wasted can cause me quite a bit of anxiety."

6) OCD does not stand for Obsessive Christmas Disorder.

"I have had OCD since I was a young child, but I did not even realize it back then. I remember standing in class and feeling as if I needed to wiggle my fingers a certain number of times or twitch my eye a certain number of times. Everyone assumes that OCD is all about being super neat or whatever, but that is far from the actual reality of living with OCD. OCD can be debilitating — it can make you take hours out of your day to complete rituals (aka compulsions) in order to 'prevent something bad from happening.' And trying to go against your OCD compulsions is mentally excruciating. OCD is not fun and it should not be an enviable trait."

Remember that if you or someone you know or care about is in crisis, you can text "Hello" to 741-741 and a trained Crisis Text Line counselor will be there to support you 24/7.

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To The Person Who Feels Suicidal But Doesn't Want To Die

Suicidal thoughts are not black and white.

Everyone assumes that if you have suicidal thoughts that means you want to die.

From an outside perspective, suicidal thoughts are rarely looked into deeper than the surface level. Either you have suicidal thoughts and you want to die, or you don't have suicidal thoughts and you want to live. What most people don't understand is that people live in between those two statements, I for one am one of them.

I've had suicidal thoughts since I was a kid.

My first recollection of it was when I came home after school one day and got in trouble, and while I was just sitting in the dining room I kept thinking, “I wonder what it would be like to take a knife from the kitchen and just shove it into my stomach." I didn't want to die, or even hurt myself for that matter. But those thoughts haven't stopped since.

I've thought about going into the bathroom and taking every single pill I could find and just drifting to sleep and never waking back up, I've thought about hurting myself to take the pain away, just a few days ago on my way to work I thought about driving my car straight into a tree. But I didn't. Why? Because even though that urge was so strong, I didn't want to die. I still don't, I don't want my life to end.

I don't think I've ever told anyone about these feelings. I don't want others to worry because the first thing anyone thinks when you tell them you have thoughts about hurting or killing yourself is that you're absolutely going to do it and they begin to panic. Yes, I have suicidal thoughts, but I don't want to die.

It's a confusing feeling, it's a scary feeling.

When the depression takes over you feel like you aren't in control. It's like you're drowning.

Every bad memory, every single thing that hurt you, every bad thing you've ever done comes back and grabs you by the ankle and drags you back under the water just as you're about the reach the surface. It's suffocating and not being able to do anything about it.

The hardest part is you never know when these thoughts are going to come. Some days you're just so happy and can't believe how good your life is, and the very next day you could be alone in a dark room unable to see because of the tears welling up in your eyes and thinking you'd be better off dead.

You feel alone, you feel like a burden to everyone around you, you feel like the world would be better off without you. I wish it was something I could just turn off but I can't, no matter how hard I try.

These feelings come in waves.

It feels like you're swimming and the sun is shining and you're having a great time until a wave comes and sucks you under into the darkness of the water. No matter how hard you try to reach the surface again a new wave comes and hits you back under again, and again, and again.

And then it just stops.

But you never know when the next wave is going to come. You never know when you're going to be sucked back under.

I always wondered if I was the only one like this.

It didn't make any sense to me, how did I think about suicide so often but not want to die? But I was thinking about it in black and white, I thought I wasn't allowed to have those feelings since I wasn't going to act on them. But then I read articles much like this one and I realized I'm not the only one. Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, and my feelings are valid.

To everyone who feels this way, you aren't alone.

I thought I was for the longest time, I thought I was the only one who felt this way and I didn't understand how I could feel this way. But please, I implore you to talk to someone, anyone, about the way you're feeling, whether it be a family member, significant other, a friend, a therapist.

My biggest mistake all these years was never telling anyone how I feel in fear that they would either brush me off because “who could be suicidal but not want to die?" or panic and try to commit me to a hospital or something. Writing this article has been the greatest feeling of relief I've felt in a long time, talking about it helps. I know it's scary to tell people how you're feeling, but you're not alone and you don't have to go through this alone.

Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, your feelings are valid, and there are people here for you. You are not alone.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255

Cover Image Credit: BengaliClicker

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