It is very hard and exhausting to advocate for mental illness to the close-minded. That’s why I have to SHIFT my focus to those with the illness and try to reach them letting them know they are not alone, they have great worth, and there is HOPE. I believe that we are some of the STRONGEST people out there. Because we not only have to use trial and error constantly to find ways to maintain it; we also have to live with the stigma of it. It is very heartbreaking to me. Just yesterday I read a story about a Muslim girl who started struggling with depression as a teenager. Her parents took her to their Imam “spiritual leader” and told him that she was demonically possessed and that he needed to perform an exorcism on her. The story went on about how he did it by choking her to the point that he left marks around her throat. He then told the parents the demons didn’t come out because she didn’t pass out. I was appalled, saddened, and even angry about this. Can you imagine how she must have felt? A teenager already dealing with the hormones of a teenager (not to mention the hormones of being a girl). To me in this case the only thing demonic about it was the actions taken in trying to “help” her. But I am learning the ONLY ones that will ever get it are the ones who have to live with it or watch a loved one suffer with it. The people that experience changes with medication and those that watch a night/day difference right before their eyes with someone. They will understand, but only to a point. It took me years to realize that my illness is a physical thing not a spiritual thing. I believe with all my heart that an illness/disease is an illness/disease no matter what the name of it is. And God provides each illness with the necessary tools/meds to help mange each of them through Drs. Some people are very fortunate (me) to be able to manage it at this time. A lot of people are still out there looking for ways and adjusting meds or just surviving. And I say to people that don’t have a clue about mental illness if you can’t help them just don’t hurt them. With your words or your suspicions/skepticism you know who you are. And I’m going to leave that right there.
I am going to list some famous people that had/has to live with mental illness and not allow it to define them:
Ludwig Van Beethoven—composer was believed to have Bipolar Disorder and struggled with alcoholism
Vincent Van Gogh-artist depression/ paralyzing anxiety and Bipolar Disorder
Winston Churchill- Prime Minister of the UK and one of the greatest public speakers of all time was believed to have Bipolar Disorder/depression
Anne Sexton-famous poet suicidal tendencies and severe depression after postpartum depression
Sylvia Plath- famous poet severe depression/suicidal thoughts/committed suicide
Katy Perry-singer depression/ suicidal thoughts
Selena Gomez-singer/actress depression/anxiety
Carrie Fisher-actress depression/ Bipolar Disorder
These are just VERY FEW of those who have struggled with depression, Bipolar Disorder, suicidal thoughts, anxiety, eating disorders, etc….I am Thankful and blessed to be a part of a group that didn’t allow their mental illness to define them. The TRAP of getting caught up in the stigma is that we are trying to prove our worth to the wrong people. When we should just go forward doing what we know our God-given Spirit tells us to do and shake off the hurt and pitfalls that can be caused by those that will NEVER get it. And learn to accept and embrace it for what it is by NOT allowing it to define us.