Chances are that you might wake up with a mental illness tomorrow; that’s 1 in 5. I didn’t choose the illness, it picked me. I really didn’t want it; maybe you’d like to have it instead…
I have bi-polar – there, I said it, like it was a dirty word or something. Well, it’s not! My family is supportive but other families may not be. We need your support.
Before, I believed that the mentally ill would rush out to commit some kind of grisly crime. Let’s face it, there is a lot of negative stigma and stereotyping, which is a vast problem. Mental health issues are taboo in schools and elsewhere. Nobody talks about it. Such as: who suffers, what are the symptoms and how or where to get help. Our society seems to just wait until someone is troubled and violence erupts. We act surprised and are numbed with shock when it occurs, starting the blame game and finger pointing. No one takes care of their own prejudices. Many of us with a mental illness are teddy bears in disguise. We’re harmless once you get to know us. A few persons with mental illness take medication for their conditions, some do not.
When I needed to ask for help, it was not a sign of weakness or stupidity. If you have to ask for help from others, do so, please don’t wait. People really need other people and that’s a fact of life. We aren’t meant to live a solitary existence. We are all refugees; survival means everyone has to care…reach out. Others deal with unfathomable stressors and isolation from our peers, which causes them to rebel out of anger, fear or frustration, instead of seeking help. It’s not wrong to want some relief from these feelings. Mostly individuals just wish to be heard, understood and accepted.
For me, my angst resulted from childhood tormentors from school. Bullies who preyed on my weaknesses: asthmatic, fat, shy, slow learner and clumsy; which caused them to tease me unmercifully. Now bullying has been carried to an extreme reality, where this atrocious behavior has gone one step further with the advent of the internet and cell phone use. These kids may not even be aware of the slamming that is taking place, so their victims can’t defend themselves. I never fought back. I escaped bullying by day dreaming. I was an introvert. Later I was labeled as being anti-social and suffered from depression. Art classes and Girl Scouting were my only source of sanctuary.
I feel that our best interest is to be an inclusive people instead of an exclusive culture. It is time to celebrate our uniqueness. It is time to lend your hands and voices to those of us who cannot defend ourselves. It’s time to give us a vote of confidence. Everyone needs to reject the idea of a dismissive attitude toward mental illness. Please don’t ridicule us and interrupt us when we talk about our problems. Sometimes I feel that others limit me because of perception of my illness. We need support to reach beyond our illness. Stop placing all the blame on us alone.
We expect to feel wanted, loved and safe by our peers, but above all, to be believed, not shunned, by those surrounding us. Once I believed that society was angry or afraid of me because of my mental illness. It might be true, too, but I stopped believing in you when you stopped believing in me. However, I am learning to love and trust again.
Still, I haven’t given up yet; people are kind at heart. I’m fascinated by history, cultures, and learning. Someday I wish to own a doll making business for people with mental illness and for those without friends, to help with their problems. Whatever the reasons behind a mental illness, I hope you are able to pursue your goals without hassles like everyone else.