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.