Why I Choose To Be Open About My Battle With Mental Illness

Why I Choose To Be Open About My Battle With Mental Illness

I don't have a beautiful and romantic story, I simply picked up all of my broken pieces and fought.
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I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety when I was fifteen. I told my parents one day that I didn’t feel like myself anymore. So we made an appointment with my doctor and I was put on a starter dose of Fluoxetine, the generic form of Prozac. Then I went on with my life. The only thing that was different was I (kind of) told my parents how I was feeling and I started taking a pill every morning after breakfast.

For a while the medicine helped. I felt like everything was just going to start getting better because I was on medicine now and medicine fixes illnesses, right?

One of the hardest realizations I’ve come to in my twenty-two years of life is that depression and anxiety are not like the flu. You can’t just start taking a medicine and wait for it to attack the illness and rest up until you feel better. Like I said, the medicine helped, but it didn’t cure me of my depression and anxiety.

So when my depression and anxiety got worse after I started college and we had to up my medicine dosage, I got really frustrated.

I take this damn pill every morning. Why do I still feel this way?

I couldn’t find the words to tell my parents how I was feeling. I didn’t want to scare them or have them start blaming themselves. I was worried to tell my friends too much because I had been burned too many times before by talking about my depression and anxiety with my friends.

I decided that the best way to deal with it was to just keep taking my medicine and pretending like I’m wasn't actually depressed. I convinced myself that if I just waited it out I would be better eventually. The higher dosage would work and if I just gave it more time I would get better, right?

Spoiler alert, it didn’t work that way.

Suppressing my depression and anxiety only made things a million times worse. I felt like it was something that made me a person who was impossible of being loved or understood. I mean, who was going to love me if I didn’t even love myself? So I pushed down my feelings and tried to just take everything one day at a time. I distanced myself from my friends and I woke up every morning only wanting the day to end as soon as possible.

Sometimes, just getting out of bed seemed like the most daunting task.

Last year I came to another harsh realization: Not only are depression and anxiety not illnesses you can just pop a pill for, you can’t ignore them either. They say you “fight” depression for a reason, it’s an internal battle.

So I decided to fight.

I didn’t have an epiphany or anything and no one fought the battle for me. I just decided one day that I wasn’t going to let my depression and anxiety win. I picked up all of my broken pieces and dragged myself to a therapist and spilled my guts about every ugly thought I have ever had in my life.

I told her everything I was scared to tell everyone else. I spent the first hour with my therapist just rambling about everything I had been dealing with for years. I told her how I would spend hours scrolling through Tumblr reading the words of people who said exactly what I had always wanted to say, but never could. I told her how I couldn’t sleep at night because I couldn’t stop my brain from thinking all of these horrible thoughts. I told her how I will never be loved by anyone because how can anyone love the broken girl? I told her how hurting myself seemed like the only way I could stop everything.

I told her how I just wanted everything to stop.

I couldn’t ever say these things because I was worried what other people would say or do. Would my friends stop being my friends? Would I make my mom cry? Would the kids at my school think I just wanted attention? I kept all of these ugly things buried deep down inside of me because I was more worried about other people than I was about myself.

The day I finally said them to my therapist was so freeing. I felt like I had literally spilled all of the ugly words out of my body. I felt like I could breathe again. Finally, after years of pushing everything down I had let it all out and I felt brand new.

After I let everything out I realized two things:

I have demons but I CAN beat them.

I choose to continue to talk about the ugly details of my depression and anxiety in the hopes that other people will talk about it too. I can’t stress enough how important it is that you don’t suppress these feelings. Life is ugly and messy sometimes and THAT IS OKAY. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that it’s not okay to not be okay.

I choose to share my story not to make it seem like some romanticized and inspiring story of a girl who overcame mental illness. I tell my story because depression and anxiety are rarely beautifully tragic things to deal with. There was nothing beautiful and romantic about what I was doing and going through. To put it in simple terms. I was a freaking mess.

It’s a nasty battle but my hope is that if we talk about it more and break the stigma that is attached to mental illness more people can win their war.

I choose to share my story because I’m not ashamed of the fact that I have a mental illness.

When I was first diagnosed I felt like it was something shameful. I understand now that it’s nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, I should be proud of myself. I’m a warrior. I have been fighting an internal battle, which is one of the hardest battles to fight. My hope is that by sharing my story more people will be open about their stories because everyone who is fighting this battle is a warrior.

I am open about my battle not because I want attention, but because I want to raise awareness. I was hesitant for a while about being so open on social media platforms about my battles. I feared people would just write me off as another girl just desperate for attention. I can 100% assure you I never did any of this for attention.

I do this for all the people like me. I share my story because I know there is a sixteen-year-old somewhere out there who is struggling in silence just like I was. Who is hiding and ignoring everything they are dealing with. I share my story because I want people to know mental illness is not shameful.

You are stronger than you know. Please don’t give up.

If you are struggling please reach out to someone you trust and/or to one of these resources:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
National Youth Crisis Hotline 1-800-448-4663
Or you can text 494949 if you are not comfortable talking to someone on the phone




Cover Image Credit: Jenna Collins

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Everything You Will Miss If You Commit Suicide

The world needs you.
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You won't see the sunrise or have your favorite breakfast in the morning.

Instead, your family will mourn the sunrise because it means another day without you.

You will never stay up late talking to your friends or have a bonfire on a summer night.

You won't laugh until you cry again, or dance around and be silly.

You won't go on another adventure. You won't drive around under the moonlight and stars.

They'll miss you. They'll cry.

You won't fight with your siblings only to make up minutes later and laugh about it.

You won't get to interrogate your sister's fiancé when the time comes.

You won't be there to wipe away your mother's tears when she finds out that you're gone.

You won't be able to hug the ones that love you while they're waiting to wake up from the nightmare that had become their reality.

You won't be at your grandparents funeral, speaking about the good things they did in their life.

Instead, they will be at yours.

You won't find your purpose in life, the love of your life, get married or raise a family.

You won't celebrate another Christmas, Easter or birthday.

You won't turn another year older.

You will never see the places you've always dreamed of seeing.

You will not allow yourself the opportunity to get help.

This will be the last sunset you see.

You'll never see the sky change from a bright blue to purples, pinks, oranges, and yellows meshing together over the landscape again.

If the light has left your eyes and all you see is the darkness, know that it can get better. Let yourself get better.

This is what you will miss if you leave the world today.

This is who will care about you when you are gone.

You can change lives. But I hope it's not at the expense of yours.

We care. People care.

Don't let today be the end.

You don't have to live forever sad. You can be happy. It's not wrong to ask for help.

Thank you for staying. Thank you for fighting.

Suicide is a real problem that no one wants to talk about. I'm sure you're no different. But we need to talk about it. There is no difference between being suicidal and committing suicide. If someone tells you they want to kill themselves, do not think they won't do it. Do not just tell them, “Oh you'll be fine." Because when they aren't, you will wonder what you could have done to help. Sit with them however long you need to and tell them it will get better. Talk to them about their problems and tell them there is help. Be the help. Get them assistance. Remind them of all the things they will miss in life.

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

Cover Image Credit: Brittani Norman

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If You Went To Elementary School In The Early 2000s, These 20 Things Will Bring You Back

We may have grown up with technology, but our childhoods were a much simpler time.

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Early 2000's kids grew up in a special period of time; during the rapid rise of modern technology. Many of us went through elementary school without smartboards and not having any sort of computer at home, then graduated high school only six years later with an iPhone in our pockets and not having opened a book in who knows how long. Enjoy some early 2000's nostalgia from a simpler time.

1. Class pictures

https://giphy.com/gifs/southparkgifs-3o6Ztmbv7k7I5spoIw

Do these still exist? Probably, but as a lifetime lover of fashion this was easily one of my most favorite days of the school year.

2. Carpet squares

https://giphy.com/gifs/RlBtYmW0BGUHS

There was always that one lucky class who brought them to assemblies and put everyone else's sore butts to shame.

3. Color-coded behavior cards

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JSbh9sehNA4

Let's be honest: the threat of a call home kept most of us from ever turning our cards past yellow.

4. Red Ribbon Week

https://giphy.com/gifs/snl-seth-rogen-nasim-pedrad-fqLcYob89OyIg

Ah, the good old days...back when theme days and scary drug factoids actually scared us off.

5. Scooter boards

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eOPNXjZ2BhY

No explanation necessary.

6. FitnessGram Pacer Test

https://giphy.com/gifs/splat-nicksplat-doug-xT1R9DPYQt60VHs4tW

It might be a meme now, but for us early 2000's kids it was just a part of our yearly gym class curriculum.

7. Square pizza

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LI7EL37OxmQ

These greasy pieces of cardboard made for the best lunch day of the week, hands down.

8. Snacks for kids' birthdays.

https://giphy.com/gifs/snacks-YiSZXjrh5PtQs

Nowadays elementary schools are more careful about allergies. Odds are if you went to elementary school fifteen years ago or before, it was a sin if a classmate didn't bring cupcakes or brownies for their birthday. Once you saw them walk in with that Tupperware container...it's all you could think about all day.

9. Book markers

https://giphy.com/gifs/chuber-arthur-library-card-3o85xpxuULZ1Svqizu

Back when young pupils used ~real books~ for learning and for fun, these thin pieces of plastic were crucial for keeping the Dewey decimal system intact.

10. Wall pencil sharpeners

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qljAQFu9E6g

For real pencils! Unless you were a cool kid and had mechanical pencils.

11. Magic Tree House, Junie B. Jones, and The Teacher from the Black Lagoon

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q2uZ-JE1N4Y

Some of the most popular books for kids at the time, not only did we read them in our free time but if we had a "cool" teacher they'd read them to us in class.

12. Scholastic book fairs

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iEfaWww5RfU

What's more exciting than leaving class to visit a pop-up bookstore in your auditorium and buy your very-own brand new, glossy book to take home?

13. Counting blocks

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sSqGCY_L6CY

As soon as our teachers brought these babies out, the class went wild. How our teachers actually got us to pay attention long enough to teach us anything with these is beyond me.

14. Writing in shaving cream

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NM-KbR6lCDE

It's the little things! Kids love getting their hands dirty, and some brave teachers took advantage of that by letting us write in shaving cream on our desks.

15. Cursive guide sheets

https://giphy.com/gifs/q-kH45yesfSvXzi

Back when electronic signatures weren't a thing and you actually needed to know cursive…

16. Kid Pix

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MNb0iY5kCcI

The start of all our technology addictions. I guarantee the theme song is still in the recesses of your mind.

17. Dance Mat typing program

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bsBbX3jPoBI

It's crazy to think that there was a time when we didn't know how to type. Dance Mat was a favorite during computer class.

18. Schoolhouse Rock!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FFroMQlKiag&t=8s

Learning about the US constitution? Grammar? Electricity? If your teacher failed to show you AT LEAST one Schoolhouse Rock video, you sorely missed out. Schoolhouse Rock may have been produced "before our time," but we love the timeless songs, nonetheless.

19. Overhead projectors

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6mswO8cf0kw

Before smartboards existed, these were necessary for any visual-heavy lesson. If you were called up to write on the projector slide, it was either the best or worst day of your elementary career.

20. Cool Math Games

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SkZmkNmbceA

Plot twist: not actually math games. For some reason everyone thought this was a secret to our teachers.

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