What It’s Like To Live Every Day With A Mental Illness

Mental illness has become a huge taboo subject in America. We talk about gay rights, religion, equality…but what about mental illness?

People refer to us as “crazy,” “psycho,” “sick,” “insane,” and my personal favorite, “attention seekers.” All of this stigma surrounding mental illness makes me feel like I am not welcome in this society, that I should feel ashamed for not being “normal,” and that even though I’m doing my best to put on a happy face, I’ve been labeled as a bitch.

Our brain chemicals may be out of whack, but we still feel… we are still human.

Yes, almost every day it’s a huge fight to get up and be myself.

Yes, I start my day off by taking three different prescribed antidepressant and mood stabilizing medications so I can literally survive the day without breaking down, crying, yelling, ending my life, or running away.

Yes, every day I feel misunderstood, used, and alone.

Yes, I have a history of inflicting harm on myself and attempting to end my life on several occasions.

Yes, in the past I have turned to anything that could make me numb.

Yes, I wish I could wake up and have a second chance and start over my life.

Yes, I have made horrible decisions and mistakes that have not only hurt me, but those close to me.

Yes, I sit at night wishing that people could see me for me and not what my illness shows.

Yes, I put up a defensive front because I don’t like who I am and that’s how I learned to cope.

Yes, I look like I’m bored and having an attitude because I’d rather project that than cry in front of everyone and show I am weak.

Yes, I hate looking in the mirror every day and seeing myself staring right back at me.

It hurts to know that no matter how much makeup I put on, or the clothes I wear, it will only conceal my pain from others, but not from myself.

And if you can relate to when I say, IT HURTS TO BREATHE, know that you are not alone.

Yes — I have a mental illness and yes, I will be forever chained to this monster inside of me.

The last few days have been pretty rough, but helping strangers, like the bacon I bought a woman today because she hit her shopping budget, makes me feel some glimmer of feeling worth something.

If you’re ever down or feel like no one cares, or if you’re happy with your life, do something nice for someone. Whether by opening a door for someone, smiling and saying hello, really listening when asking how someone is today, or paying for someone’s Oscar Meyer bacon, it counts. Or better yet, give someone a chance and get to know them before labeling them. Not only will you feel good about yourself, you’ll make someone else realize they aren’t so alone and help them realize that someone out there cares.

I chose my job because I want to help others. I want to be an example of someone who suffers from a mental illness but still made it this far, someone who can sit in silence and just listen, to be that someone who comforts them when they are crying so hard that they can’t stop hiccuping, to be that person who grabs a tissue for them because they have tears and snot running down their face, to be that person that tells them they are absolutely brilliant, to be that person who tells them to tear up those suicide notes and instead, watch South Park to feel better, to be that person to help them untie and take down their pink belt from the door and put the chair back where it belongs, to be that person to remind them that they don’t need to drink their pain away or search for happiness through other risky behaviors, to be that person to encourage them to say 5 nice things about themselves (even if they can only say they have pretty eyes), to be that person who DOESN’T sit there and argue that if you’re positive, you will be happy, to be that person who understands that you DO NOT CHOOSE to feel hopeless, bitter, and negative, and to be that person that says they care and truly means it.

Making others happy makes me feel good. Seeing someone else’s happiness as a result of something I did gives me joy. Hearing someone tell me that what I have done has been one of the nicest things anyone ever did for them brings meaning to my life. It’s incomparable to anything else and the closest to feeling “happy” that I’ve gotten so far. If I can’t be happy myself, I might as well make others feel what I so desperately desire and search for — happiness and acceptance. TC mark

featured image – uochi.

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