Talking about mental disorder can be isolating, it can be dehumanizing, and it can be harmful. When talking about your personal experience with mental illness people will try (or have tried) to distance you from them and theirs. You may have felt that others feared, or hated, you for something that you could not control or did not ask for. When talking about your mental disorder you may have felt dissected and scrutinized as if you were a lab experiment gone wrong. You went in to speak your truth and be seen but instead you got shut down and treated less than what you are worth. When speaking up and making space for you and your mental disorder you may have felt threatened by others ignorance and words. You may have felt smaller than you have ever before.
However, I believe that should not stop you or me from speaking our truths as people with mental disorders. We have been built differently, yes, but we deserve as much compassion, love and understanding as anyone else. I invite you and all that have experienced mental illness to speak your truth and create your brave space. Mental illnesses are not a dreamscape adventure that takes us away from the hardships of reality; or an artistic boost that makes us super-van goh-esque figures. Mental illnesses are a part of us. They can be brutally hard, painful, dissociative, and at times, life threatening but they are a part of us. If we are to stand proud of who we are, we must hold all the pieces, even the broken ones, even the ones that do not shine and stand strong, stand proud. And thus, be doing so we are witnessed, we are heard and we pave the road for others who have yet to find their voice.
We cannot change how others perceive us. We cannot change how others treat us. But we can change how we perceive ourselves, how we treat others and how we present ourselves to the world. Please enjoy these videos by brave people who shared their story with the world:
- What they Don’t Tell you About Mental Illness
- Suicide: How my failed attempts became my biggest success
- My Pill Journey
- On living with depression and suicidal feelings
- “Crazy” Girl– On Surviving and Thriving with Mental Illness
Be brave. Make space for yourself. Even if that space is admitting that you need help.