People With Mental Illnesses Matter on This Historic Election Day

Our greatest desire, as humans, is to belong. Every single one of us wants to be seen, accepted, and loved, exactly as we are. As an individual with several mental illnesses I understand this need, and I understand that not everyone can feel like they belong. It has been a struggle, but believe it or not, I have found some places where I can belong, despite my anxiety, depression, body dysmorphia, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). I say “despite” because even with all the work we’ve done, individuals with mental illness are still stigmatized, even to one another. To this day, belonging is a struggle.

This election season has me to question that even more. I wrote about how memes about Trump supporters having a mental illness stigmatizes individuals that actually have a mental illness, and let’s just say the comments were not the most supportive afterwards. Today, Election Day, I am worried more than ever. Neither candidate has made me feel that I am a priority, that I deserve to belong in the world they want to create over the next four years. Of course, the two are not equal in their support of individuals with disabilities and mental illness, but we still have a long way to go.

Today I worry, not just about the results, but also about the future, regardless of which candidate wins. I worry about accessibility for individuals with mental illness, in our schools, our work, and everywhere else. This isn’t about the lesser of two evils, or evil at all; it’s about creating a better world. And regardless of who wins this is our opportunity, not just for individuals with mental illness, but every other group that has been thrown under the bus during this election season. This is our opportunity to demand more because we deserve more. We deserve to end the stigma surrounding mental illness, to make our world accessible to the nearly 1 in 4 individuals who will deal with a mental illness throughout their lives. We are a priority, in this election and every day after, until the next one, and the next one after that.

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Stock photo by Denisfilm

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