12 Stories From 12 Survivors Of Mental Illness

12 Stories From 12 Survivors Of Mental Illness That Need To Be Heard In 2019

A culture educated on mental health and its associated stigmas is emerging, yet there are still those who remain ignorant to the reality of those suffering.

Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash
232

For the nearly 47 million adults in the US who suffer from mental illness of varying degree and all others in alliance with this epidemic, May 2019 marked the 70th anniversary of Mental Health Awareness Month. Yet, considering mental illness is so widespread, it seems a month devotion is not enough—we all need to be aware of its presence each and every day.

When I wrote my first piece speaking out about my personal struggle with anxiety and dysthymia (chronic, mild depression), it was nerve wracking.

Although we live in a modern society marked by those sympathetic to any and all cause, not all are so understanding. A culture educated on mental health and its associated stigmas is emerging, yet there are still those who remain ignorant to the reality of those suffering. This no fault of theirs—failure to be exposed doesn't allow for understanding and the foundation necessary for all to feel safe in discussing their struggle will take time to build.

Regardless, it was nerve-wracking.

I put my heart on my sleeve and laid it bare for all the world to see on a public platform. Yet the feedback I received was enough to further spur my mission to aid in the de-stigmatization of mental illness. People commending me for my candor, people I've hardly spoken to reaching out to thank me for speaking up and in turn confiding in me about their struggles. I was elated with the response.

Since I've shared my story, I figured it was time to share some stories of others, so I created an anonymous form where people could share their experiences.

The following are excerpts from the 12 respondents answers*:

Katrina R—"Never give up"

"I've been dealing with anxiety ever since I can remember and major depression since I was in 7th grade. The worst was when I was in junior high school—I started self harming and couldn't even get out of bed for class. I had to transfer to online schooling to finish."

Q: What would you say to someone experiencing mental health?

"Never give up. It may be hard now, but you will succeed and you will get better."

Thomas R**—"Become more aware"

"If a person suffers from a mental health problem, don't treat them differently than you did before. That creates another difference in their world they now also have to deal with. However, you should become more aware—aware of what you say and how you act, and how those actions could be interpreted."

Callaghan S—"There aren't always warning signs"

"I have been diagnosed with clinical depression and anxiety—it's genetic in my family. I had a panic attack while visiting my boyfriend's dad's house and it came out of nowhere. I left the room and had to sit in front of an open window. I just shook and gasped for air. There aren't always warning signs leading up to a panic attack and that's the scary part."

Q: What do you want people to know about mental health?

"I want people to know that not everyone's journey with mental health is the same. There are different symptoms and side effects, different physical and emotional triggers. And there's no way of knowing unless the person tells you. Don't feel bad if you think you've done something wrong—when we want to let you in, we will."

Closing thoughts:

"Do your research instead of belittling people suffering from mental illness."

Dean Y**—"If you can confide in someone, do so"

"I personally experienced depression and anxiety, and watch my father and sister suffer as well. Sometimes I have problems getting out of bed, as well as getting and staying motivated. My anxiety manifests itself in irritability, shaky legs, and picking at my fingernails to the point where they bleed. I get really quiet, and don't engage in conversation."

Q: What would you say to someone experiencing mental health?

"If you can confide in someone, do so. I told one of my best friends that it makes me nervous to eat in the dining hall alone, so she makes sure I eat at least two meals every day. We eat almost every meal together. Friends will sometimes go a long way to make sure you're taking care of yourself, especially if they know the deal. I know it can be hard to talk about, but I'm glad I did."

Taylor A—"Mental illnesses are more common than people realize"

"For three years of my life I suffered depression. At one point it became so bad that I barely ate and doctors told me I was borderline anorexic."

Q: What would you say to someone experiencing mental health?

"As cliché as it sounds, I would tell them that it is possible to overcome this incredibly difficult illness, and that there are people you may not even be aware of who support you and want you to succeed."

Q: What do you want people to know about mental health?

"Mental illnesses are more common than people may realize, so they're nothing to be ashamed of. Even if mental illness is becoming more acknowledged within society, it needs to be properly addressed in order to help people instead of being nonchalantly talked about."

Gina J**—"There is no need to tiptoe around the topic"

"I️ have personally suffered from general anxiety and some situational depression but have managed to mostly get it under control. I went through a 6 month period of very intense anxiety during high school where I had a panic attack almost every single day."

Q: What would you say to someone experiencing mental health?

"You are so much stronger than you think you are, and although things might seem permanently difficult, it is not always the case. The best thing to do in the moment is to find the little things in life that make you happy and focus as much energy as possible into those areas of life, and never be afraid to open up to those close to you."

Q: What do you want people to know about mental health?

"There is no need to tiptoe around the topic. Talking about mental illness is really important and we need to change the stigma! Just like you shouldn't feel bad for any physical disease, mental illness is no different."

Margarita A**—"People who are depressed aren't just looking for attention"

"A lot of my close friends are clinically depressed and I have relatives who are bipolar. My junior year I was depressed and, at many times, suicidal."

Q: What do you want people to know about mental health?

"People who are depressed aren't just looking for attention."


Clifton O**—"You have to want to fix yourself"

"I have a long history with depression, although I've currently been "better" for two years. That said, I've been on antidepressants since I was eight and I still had to take time off in high school for treatment."

Q: What would you say to someone experiencing mental health?

"Your support system is everything."

Q: What do you want people to know about mental health?

"Depression and other mental disorders are not just a mindset or a feeling. Closing Thoughts: As someone who has battled depression and beat it, I would say that you have to really, really want to get better—in my opinion, you have to want to fix yourself."

Theo B**—"This is something you can overcome"

"I got to therapy on the regular. I was struggling a lot on my own for awhile because I come from a community where mental health is not talked about."

Q: What would you say to someone experiencing mental health?

"This is something that you can overcome, it doesn't define you."

Fran A**—"Just because I'm judgmental of myself, it does not mean I'm fishing for compliments"

"I've personally experienced an eating disorder alongside issues with my body image. Just because I'm judgmental of myself, it does not mean I'm fishing for compliments."

Kate A**—"I felt like I had to tackle a lot of things on my own at an age younger than most"

"I find that I have a lot of internal anxiety. It's not manifested in external symptoms like panic attacks, it's more of an internal panic that only I can feel and see. This anxiety causes me to be overwhelmed at times and can be difficult to shake. Growing up with a mother that suffered from chronic depression and generalized anxiety was very difficult at times. We often look to our mothers as a source of stability and support, but I didn't have that most of the time. I felt like I had to tackle a lot of things on my own at an age younger than most."

Jennifer K—"Having anxiety does not mean I can't be a happy, positive person"

"I have anxiety and an eating disorder and it has ruled an entire period of my life. I'm still trying to get through the dark times and learn to live with my thoughts. In high school my parents once stopped me from drinking another gallon of water, because I was drowning myself in liquids. I was livid. We all counted how much liquid I had consumed that day, and compared the number to what humans need—it was shocking. I felt so torn, guilty, and lost."

Q: What do you want people to know about mental health?

"Having anxiety does not mean I can't be a happy, positive person."

Closing Thoughts:

"My eating disorder doesn't define me, although I sometimes define myself with it."

Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who contributed to the making of this article, and to those who took the time to read.

*Some answers have been reworded so as to ensure optimal understanding

**Names have been altered using a random name generator to ensure anonymity

Report this Content

More on Odyssey

Facebook Comments