They’re moments we might want to forget — the ones that show us the scary truth of how bad things can get. When you live with a mental illness, these moments can be breaking points or breakthroughs — perhaps halting recovery or making you realize how badly you need help. Regardless, we push through them — learn from them — and hopefully grow stronger each time we face them.

We asked our readers who live with a mental illness what’s something they needed to hear at their lowest point.

We hope these messages find you when you need them most:

1. “You are worth more than your darkness.” — Krystin Louise

"You are worth more than your darkness."

2. “This is temporary.” — Rebecca Chamaa

"This is temporary."

3. “You are not alone. You are worthy of life.” — Katie Keepman

"You are not alone. You are worthy of life."

4.I know you’re in there somewhere.” — Valerie Miles

"I know you're in there somewhere."

5.Don’t beat yourself up so much.” — Anne Barrymore 

"Don't beat yourself up so much."

6. “You’re a strong person.” — Jade Ellis Shellam

"You're a strong person."

7. “You won’t always feel this way.” — Pat Shaw

"You won't always feel this way."

8. “You matter.” — Andrea Graham

 "You matter."

9.I’m proud of you.” — Nikki White

"I'm proud of you."

10.It’s the depression talking…not you.” — Krystal Roberson-Mc Murtry

"It's the depression talking...not you."

11.Your feelings are always valid.” — Amanda Schulte

"Your feelings are always valid."

12. “You are not a waste of space.” — Sarah Mayfield

"You are not a waste of space."

13. “Do whatever you need to take care of yourself.” — Brenda Ann

"Do whatever you need to take care of yourself."

14.It’s not your fault.” — Valerie Stipcak

"It's not your fault."

15. “You are not your anxiety.” — Kirsty Flynn

"You are not your anxiety."

16. “We will go through this together.” — Alexandra Vardaki 

"We will go through this together."

17. “Someone understands.” — Patti Dorris

 "Someone understands."

18. “You’re not a failure.” — Kayla Lynn Malisiak

"You're not a failure."

19. “You have an illness. You are sick. It’s not really you.” — Aubrie McShane

 "You have an illness. You are sick. It's not really you."

20“There is nothing wrong with asking for help.” — Jenalyn Cloward Barton

"There is nothing wrong with asking for help."

What is a message you’d like to hear in your lowest moment? Let us know in the comments below.

 20 Things People With Mental Illness Needed to Hear at Their Lowest Moments

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Laura Darrall launched the #ItAffectsMe social media campaign on Tuesday, a movement to help end the stigma associated with mental illness.

The idea behind the campaign is pretty simple. Write “#ItAffectsMe” on a Post-It note, stick it on your forehead and take a selfie.

“#itaffectsme is simply the statement that we have all known or will know mental illness in our lives, whether through ourselves, families, friends or a stranger in the street,” Darrall writes on her website.

The 28-year-old wrote on her personal blog that she “has suffered on and off from anxiety, depression, panic attacks and more OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) than you could sink a battle ship with.” In a YouTube video on the #ItAffectsMe website, Darrall explains that after getting help, she wanted to figure out a way to give back to Mind, the organization that helped her.

While Darrall encourages campaign participants to include a link to MIND and donate to the organization, she also wants to raise awareness.

“Help is out there and only by talking and sharing can we find it,” she told The Mighty. “If we share our mental illnesses with people, they can be strong for us when we can not. And people want to help, they want to hold your hand if you give them the chance. So do, talk to them and give them that chance.”

“We’re very grateful to Laura and everyone else taking part in her It Affects Me campaign for standing up and challenging the stigma that still exists around mental health,” Ruth Richards, Head of Marketing & Communications for Mind, told The Mighty. “The donations Mind receives as a result will help us to provide vital support for people with mental health problems when they need it the most.”

Laura Darrall poses with a Post-It on her forehead
Laura Darrall is encouraging others to follow her lead (Image courtesy of #ItAffectsMe / Laura Darrall)

“My main aim is to get mental health education into the curriculum, to end stigma and to get people talking,” Darrall added. “If I can get just one person who is suffering to speak out and ask for help then it is worth every single tear I ever shed last year.”

Darrall is “completely thrilled and overwhelmed” by the response to the movement. She posted the composite photo below on the #ItAffectsMe Facebook page, and hundreds more appear on Facebook and Twitter.

People pose with Post-Its on their faces
Image courtesy of #ItAffectsMe / Laura Darrall

h/t Cosmopolitan


I have a suggestion. To some it may sound outright “crazy,” but speaking of “crazy…”

Please, for the love of Pete, let’s make the choice today to stop differentiating between “physical” and “mental” illness.

Why? Because when it comes down to it, I believe mental illnesses are physical illnesses.

Mental illnesses are diseases of the brain. And when, may I ask, did the brain stop being part of the body?

Let’s look at an example. If I’m a patient with viral encephalitis, I have what is medically classified as a “physical illness,” even though encephalitis is a disease of the brain. Even if viral encephalitis produces psychiatric symptoms, it’s still a physical illness. Why? Because the brain is part of the body.

A person with multiple sclerosis (MS) also has what’s medically classified as a “physical illness” even though it’s a condition that affects the brain. And even if MS produces psychiatric symptoms, it’s still a physical illness. Why? Because the brain is part of the body.

Yet, in society today, we make the distinction between “medical” and “mental” like the first should be taken more seriously. While neurological disorders are viewed as medical, or illnesses of the brain, psychological conditions are viewed as mental, or disorders of the mind.

So what’s the hang up? Why do we act like “physical” illnesses are more medical than “mental” illnesses?

I would argue this distinction exists because we’re still learning about the causes of mental illness. Neurological illnesses, like dementia and epilepsy, are often classified as physical illnesses largely because science has been able to determine and document a physical cause, one that is detectable through blood work, imaging or other diagnostic testing.

But just because the cause of a condition remains elusive to science, doesn’t mean it’s any less “real,” “medical” or physical than the myriad of conditions for which science has provided concrete information. A sick person is sick, regardless of whether a microscope, x-ray or genetic test can show the reason why. It’s time for us to focus more on skilled healing than skeptical hesitation.

Furthermore, there are several psychological illnesses for which science is beginning to determine a cause. And that cause, it would appear, is physical.

A common illness worldwide is major depressive disorder. Advancements in science over the last few decades have allowed us to gain some insight into the chemical imbalances, faulty neurotransmission and genetic predispositions that combine to create the not-so-perfect storm we know as depression.

According to the International Bipolar Foundation, there is no single cause for bipolar disorder. It appears to be a combination of genes and the environment. The organization also says, “There is evidence from imaging studies that the brains of people with bipolar disorder may differ from the brains of healthy individuals. As the differences are more clearly identified and defined through research, scientists will gain a better understanding of the underlying causes of the illness.” It would appear there’s more to this “mental” illness that meets the eye.

So among all the confusion surrounding mental illness, what can be done? To start, I think we should simply do away with the distinction that makes people take “physical” and “psychological” illnesses more seriously than “medical” and “mental” illnesses. By continuing to distinguish between “physical illness” and “mental illness,” we’re reinforcing the already too strong stigma that surrounds these true disorders of the brain. We’re promoting and strengthening the belief that mental illness is “all in a person’s head” — or in other words, the patient’s fault — and not a real illness or disease.

What is mental illness really? It’s a medical, physical illness of the brain. The fact that mental illness — just like medical conditions — can be triggered by environmental factors doesn’t make it a choice, any more than Parkinson’s disease or any other neurological condition is chosen by those afflicted by it. It’s no more the person’s fault than a recurring malignant tumor is the fault of a cancer survivor. And it’s time we started acting like it.


I wish so many things for those of you who are like me, who live with a mental illness.

I wish for reprieves from your illness when you’re struggling.

I wish good health for you and the ones you love.

I wish for treatments that work, and if those treatments fail, I wish for some other treatment to come along and work quickly.

I wish you limitless hope, that you’ll not only survive, but thrive this year.

I wish for more good days than bad.

I wish for you to be heard, and if you’re not, I wish you the courage to stand up for what you know is true.

I wish you insurance companies that are kind and reassuring.

I wish for you to know your infinite worth.

I wish for understanding doctors, nurses, therapists and other professionals you work with.

I wish for all good things to come to you, not just because, but because you deserve all good things.

I wish for you the courage to talk openly about your illness.

I wish for your recovery — whether it’s beginning or continuing this year.

I wish you the wisdom to choose life, even when you feel so bad that life seems impossible.

I wish that you know only love and support, and not stigma.

And, lastly, I wish that if you didn’t know how much you are loved, that you know now.

You are loved and cared about more than you’ll ever know.


We rely on our voices every day to communicate with those around us. To most, speaking comes as naturally as breathing; air from our lungs moves through our voice box and vocal chords likely thousands of times each day, effortlessly translating thoughts into syllables, syllables into sounds and sounds into words. To be honest, I never really thought about these processes until four years ago when I developed a severe anxiety disorder called selective mutism (SM) – a paralyzing fear of speaking.

While people with SM are perfectly capable of speech, something in our brains perceives speaking as a threat. The process gets shut down as a protective mechanism. In my case, my brain will only let me speak in certain places and to certain people. Leaving the comfort and safety of my home usually results in an epic battle between my body and brain; my brain is almost always the victor. Though I desperately want to speak, my throat closes, my body freezes and my brain just will not let me.

In the early days, people would at least try to talk to me. But as the days went on, it was easier for people to pretend I didn’t exist. I can understand how it happened, and I don’t blame them. I can only imagine how uncomfortable it must be to have a conversation with someone who can’t look you in the eye, has no facial expression and appears to be in misery. For me, what was even more devastating was watching them walk away, knowing next time they wouldn’t even try to engage with me at all.

What’s it really like being a selective mute? How would I describe what it’s like to live my life? Having selective mutism is like being constantly followed by a long, slimy boa constrictor. Slithering in my shadows, I know he could attack at any given moment, suffocating my voice until it completely disappears.

Desperate for some relief, my parents and I made a difficult but worthwhile decision to transfer me to a boarding school 87 miles from my home. Having never been away from my parents for more than a couple nights, the thought of going to a boarding school was absolutely terrifying. But I knew it was a step I needed to take in order to regain my life. As it turns out, this was the best decision we could have made. This new atmosphere brought out a person within me I hadn’t seen in years, a person I almost forgot existed. Through an extremely supportive and welcoming school community, I slowly began to speak in a school environment again — something I hadn’t done in over a year and a half.

In late October, only six weeks after changing schools, I stood at a podium in front of my entire school and told them about selective mutism. I told them my story and ways they could help someone like me. I told them about how I’m one of the lucky ones, as many people with selective mutism never get to experience such a supporting environment. They continue living in a world of silence, fear and isolation.

In our hearts, we’re just like everyone around us. We crave interaction and friendship. We have similar interests as others. We want to be accepted and “normal.” We dream of the day speaking will become something we don’t even have to think about. But we can’t do this alone.

I know this is a lot to ask, but if you know someone like me, here are some things you can do to help:

Don’t give up on them. A kind text and a smile make my heart dance because, sometimes, it’s the best thing that’s happened to me that day.

Know it’s OK to be silent sometimes. I know it’s awkward, but just having someone around with no expectation to speak can make all the difference. Selective mutism is isolating.

Please, keep including them in your plans. Some days I won’t be able to go, but don’t give up.

Give me an option to communicate with you in other ways. Texting, writing, nodding and pointing are all great ways to communication when my voice fails me.

Thank you from all of us who don’t have a voice.

Watch Lauren speaking to her school about selective mutism in the video below:


After years and years of built up pressure of emotions, thoughts and feelings that I repressed, I can honestly say that a dam has been broken. At first, I thought I had a pond full of these. Then, I was hopeful it was only a lake. Where I am now, I am almost positive that my dam was holding back an ocean of thoughts, feelings and emotions.

Starting in the spring of 2014, there was a small hole and a leak began. By September, the pressure was too much for my old barrier. When a friend gently asked, “What’s wrong?” The dam burst, and everything came rushing out.

Since that moment, I’ve been trying to reconstruct it. With scotch tape. You can probably guess how well that worked. I have been standing ever since, trying to use my hands and body to stop the metaphorical waters. (OK, real tears, too).

It’s exhausting. It’s frustrating. It’s impossible. Maybe, I need a new strategy.

I think my group therapist might be thrilled to hear me say this: Maybe it’s time I ride the waves or as he would say, “Sit with it.” I’d like to think I can get in a raft and paddle in the direction I choose. However, I should probably admit I am more accurately in an inner tube. I can use my feet or hands to push off the banks of the proverbial river when I get really stuck, but other than that, it truly is out of my hands.

I can keep myself from overturning and try not to bump too hard into obstacles in my way. Maybe, I am not supposed to have a barrier to my emotions. What a scary thought; however, if that is the case, then I am seriously hoping that after the initial (years long) accumulated pressure subsides, the flow will be a hell of a lot slower, and my journey will be a lot more gentle.

Now, to just make myself relax back in the inner tube and appreciate the blue sky. Wish me luck! Not easy for me, at all.

Image via Thinkstock.

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