Has this ever happened to you? After giving an honest answer about how you truly feel, you get that “look.” The look of pity but not in a, “I’m sorry you don’t feel well,” way, but more like a, “Spare me your sob story and suck it up,” look, accompanied by a faint eye roll and touch of dismissiveness.
I’m so tired of being judged by people. Imagine a life where people say “you’re a drama queen”, “over protective”, “crazy”, “not normal”, “unsocial”, “you make life worse than it is…”. And “get over it, nothing’s wrong”, “everyone has a bad day, stop playing the victim”. “You’re horrible”. “You’re mental”.
Then think, what would make me choose a life where that is how I want people to see me?
Answer? I wouldn’t choose it.
I hear or read stories about people who truly believe it’s “all in our head” or that we should “try a little harder and stop feeling sorry for ourselves,” that really leaves a pit in my stomach. I’ve heard from many people who feel the same way due to reactions they’ve received once they’ve admitted to having one mental instability or the other. I am writing this as a response to anyone who doesn’t take mental health seriously or simply doesn’t get it.
Consider this: If I suddenly grabbed my chest and said I was having a heart attack, would you tell me to snap out of it? Would you laugh it off? Would you expect me to try a little harder? Would you tell me to stop exaggerating? Would you expect me to pray my way out of it? Or would you be more apt to believe me because you are seeing physical proof?
There is no quick test for mental illness, but for all of us who struggle, it’s as real and as terrifying as a brain tumor or heart attack. Just because I’m smiling on the outside doesn’t mean my brain isn’t shutting down or I’m doing fine on the inside. I could be merely one step away from the edge.
Just as all these medical conditions are real, so are mental instabilities. Just as a heart attack can sneak up on you out of nowhere, so can the symptoms of mental illness. One moment, I may be fine. The next moment, I could find myself confined to bed or being admitted to the hospital. Just as it takes time to recover from a heart attack or to get insulin under control, it takes time to fully recover from mental instability.
Ask yourself this: Would you willingly make me feel guilty for having a heart attack? You may not even realize you are doing it, but please, don’t pass judgment on me for something I would never make up or exaggerate, something I cannot control. Help me fight this battle because it’s not easy to fight on my own. Let’s work together to break the cycle of judgment and resentment. Let’s stop the stigma.
- By: Elizabeth Ita