There’s something that I want to be honest about, because I’m no longer afraid to be blatantly open about it.
I have a mental illness. To be completely honest, I have a few all rolled up into an unforgiving package that has been plaguing me since I was a child. It wasn’t until I was 18 that I was diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, Social Anxiety and previously, bulimia. On occasion, depression does creep into the mix, but as I have learned recently, that comes hand in hand with my panic/anxiety (after the attacks). More recently, I have been diagnosed with potentially having Borderline Personality Disorder, or having traits of it.
I’m sharing this, not for attention, but for a greater reason. Simply put, I’m tired of hiding and society telling me that I’m some sort of freak show, because there’s something wrong with my brain. I’m tired of my physical illnesses being accepted for a lot of my behavior, but not what’s happening inside my head. This world has been telling everyone like me that it’s not okay to talk about what we are living, instead, choosing to dictate what is and isn’t the norm as human beings. I’m fed up with the excuses and I’m choosing to be open and honest about what I’m going through. The reason is that I can’t keep myself hidden away or keep avoiding life as it moves forward, while I’m still trying to fight the fears and panic that irrationally beat me down on a regular basis.
I have been living with mental illness for as long as I can remember, but over the years I spent time in therapy and on medication to get myself back in control of who I am. For a period of time, it worked and I lived without having to be medicated for years. Nevertheless, last year a wall broke and everything came crashing in like a tsunami. I was unable to cope and had to admit to myself that I needed help and can no longer stand on my own two feet fighting while gasping for air as if I’m drowning in the ocean. It was taking me to places that scared me, that I feared so deeply and I tried so hard to claw my way out of. It left me a complete wreck.
Over the past year, as I was deep in a relapse and losing control, important relationships in my life have taken heavy blows and some have been lost. Sadly, those people involved had no clue what I was living through, nor did they know that I was suffering from a mental illness that was taking all of us hostage. Therefore, this has been my biggest regret and partially my motivation to seek help once more. There will always be that regret that those relationships in my life faced the firing squad of my illness. If I could heal them, gain their presence once more, I would do everything I can. It’s one of my wishes, but what’s important now, is that I am getting the help that I need and finding myself once again.
Thankfully, there are people in my life that have been supportive in my journey to heal myself and get back on track. I’ll always be thankful for them because they have been a blessing in this crazy world, no matter how many times that they must pull me off the floor.
My hectic journey the past few months has included returning to therapy. This time, I joined group therapy and one of the craziest realities that I discovered was the fact no matter how alone I feel in all of this, I’m really not. There are other people like me, who are often feeling alone, isolated and that they are drowning from all the panic, depression and anxiety too. I’m not alone, they aren’t alone and we are all wanting to live a normal life once more. It’s amazing that we support one another in each session and I’m thankful that they have supported me despite the millions of tears that I have shed in that room.
Unfortunately, for any one of us to be completely open with coworkers, family, friends, classmates and others about what we are suffering still leads to us being labeled as crazy or freak show. But we aren’t, we are normal human beings that have something going on in our brains that we don’t always have control over. We are all fighting to live, fighting to find normalcy and acceptance. It’s not fair to treat us as if we had some infectious disease or simply isolate us from the rest of the herd. Then again, who would want to be a part of the herd anyway.
Nonetheless, it’s okay to be open about having a mental illness and it’s okay to ask for help and get it. Whether that includes just talking to someone about what you’re living through regularly, talking to your doctor, taking medications and going to therapy. Don’t let the naysayers discourage you from seeking the help, finding peace and happiness. I know that the mind is louder than most when you’re suffering, but reaching out and being open about what’s going can’t make it worst. If someone isn’t willing to understand, support or help, then it’s their own ignorance that makes them a crappy human being to begin with.
So far, I haven’t lost a single friend from being open about what I’m living through. If anything, I have a support system that’s ready to jump to my side and literally pick me off the floor and out of the puddle of tears. Maybe, I’m lucky, but all I can say is that It’s better than suffering in silence and cutting oneself off from the world. Life is so much better than that.
To those who are suffering:
I dare you to be open and honest about what you’re living through. You’re not some weirdo (only I am, because I voice my cat with a Scottish accent. Ha.)
To those who aren’t:
Be supportive, listen and keep your heart open, because those who suffer need it and need you. Besides, we are awesome people with awesome hearts. We might even be the better dancers.
So there it is. The world can see my words and know what's happening. I have no shame about it.
Published by Amy Koda