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When People Say I'm Being a Victim for Experiencing My Mental Illness

I have a mental illness. I have been diagnosed with several anxiety disorders since age 12.

I’ve been told many times that allowing myself to feel my mental illness makes me a victim.

I’ve never felt sorry for myself, per se. I don’t think there is any point in feeling this way because it just makes things significantly more painful. But I do want to speak out on something that is important to me. Maybe to initiate some train of thought that makes you reconsider your opinion and position about someone who has a mental disorder or illness. I am a victim of mental illness, and I’m OK with it.

I think nervousness is sometimes associated with anxiety disorder, and the two are vastly different. This creates a stigma against people who are living with anxiety disorder. As a psychology major and a life coach who works with people who have anxiety (or fear), I can tell you that being nervous and having anxiety disorder are not the same thing. Actually, a basic “Psych 101” textbook could inform you of this as well.

Anxiety is complex. There are six recognized anxiety disorders. One person can live with generalized anxiety disorder with no sign of panic disorder. Another person can have social anxiety disorder only, and another person with the same gender and age can suffer from all six of the anxiety disorders at the same time.

There are various categories of anxiety. But here’s the deal — it’s not common nervousness.

I am so tired of people saying I am “being a victim” if I acknowledge that anxiety disorder sucks and that I want care, help and resources to be available to me. That’s not fair. And if it makes me a victim to announce that I want help, care and love because I have a mental illness, then so be it. I deserve help, care and love.

We are expected to be stronger when faced with an illness that can be as life paralyzing as a physical one, and yet we aren’t allowed to ever wallow in our pain, cry about how it’s terrifying or get extensive amounts of love just because.

That’s the most demeaning concept I’ve ever heard. People say to speak out and not to “suffer in silence,” but what about the days, months and years after that? Anxiety doesn’t necessarily disappear — it just becomes less of a scream and more of a hum when you recover.

When it’s already difficult enough to get through the day, and on top of it, we might be told we are lazy, not good enough and overdramatic.

“You’re being a victim right now.”

“No, I am being human.”

Let’s end the stigma.

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