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You're So Lucky You Don't Understand

My mom once told me about an article she read that said with mental illness we always say you are. We don’t do that with physical illnesses. We never say you are cancer. You are diabetes. But for some reason with mental illness we tend to say you are. You are bipolar. You are an addict. You are whatever other word can fill in that space. But why do we say you are? Because having a mental illness does not define who you are.

Mental illness is a condition. It’s a part of you, and that’s okay, but it’s not all of you. It’s something my family, friends, and myself have struggled with. There’s been many times where all of the sudden a feeling of panic comes over me, sitting in a classroom with people around me and I have no idea why. All I knew was I felt like I may have a heart attack and I needed to get out. But how do I explain that when we don’t treat mental illness the way we treat physical illness. If I had the flu it would be expected for me to miss class. It’d be okay to wanna stay in bed. But how do I explain what’s wrong with me when it’s treated so differently. How do you expect me to explain when I don’t even know myself?

Telling me nothing’s wrong, I’m fine, don’t worry about it really doesn’t help. Because as rational as that is, my brain doesn’t care, and my body feels it as well. I can’t say I’ve never said something like this to try and help, because I have. But then I remind myself that no one wants to feel how they are feeling in those moments. Who would choose to feel that way? It truly confuses me when people act as if mental illness isn’t real or it’s just for attention. Those are the ones that really get me. I mean maybe they are right. Maybe people just wake up saying let me hurt loved ones today, and not want to get out of bed, and maybe I'll make myself feel like I'm having a heart attack because that's just really a fun time. But, I kinda doubt it.

There’s such a stigma around mental illness. People judge, they don’t understand, and they have no idea how lucky they are that they’ve never had to understand, although I wish more would try. And that’s a huge reason why so many people hide it. Why they don’t speak up. Why they feel as though they have no one to turn to. But if anyone reads this that feels that way, know there are people who understand.

I may seem a little angry about this subject or some would say sensitive. Maybe I'm just another kid who's young and gets offended by everything. It seems as though anyone who takes a stand on anything gets labeled that way. And that’s okay. Because I am angry. So many people don’t get treatment they need because of the stigma surrounding mental health. So many times addiction has an underlying issue of mental illness. So many times just a little understanding could go a long way for people who need it.

A lot of my art talks about this subject, because it’s something I’m so connected to and I want to help change. As I said in my last post, everyone has a voice, and we need to use that to stand up for what we believe in.

No matter what you’ve gone through or deal with everyday, it doesn’t define who you are. Only you can do that.

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