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A Thank You to the Stigma Surrounding Mental Health

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Editor's Note

If you struggle with self-harm or experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, visit this resource.

To those who pushed me away because of my mental illness I say, “Thank you.” To the stigma surrounding mental health I say, “Thank you.” I say thank you because they let me go through my hardest time alone.

Thank you for making me feel “crazy” and out of my mind. Thank you for invalidating my illness by saying, “It’s just a phase,” or “It’s all in your head.” Thank you for invalidating me and not reaching out. Thank you for letting my panic attacks go unseen. Thank you for making me feel mental during a depressive or anxiety episode. Thank you for not talking to me or asking me how I felt. Thank you for pushing me away because you were not able to handle me. Thank you for making me feel worthless.

Thank you for letting the stigma win. And thank you stigma for these people. I say thank you because all of this showed me who you really are and who I really need. And now I’m sure of two things: you don’t deserve me and I don’t need you. You didn’t deserve me at my worst and you won’t deserve me at my best because yes, my best will come, and you won’t be around to see me shine.

The truth is that living with mental illness is hard. It grows slower and slower inside how you, going deeper and deeper in your brain until you can’t hold it anymore and you just explode like a time ticking bomb.

To you guys, it may seem like a burden that came out of nowhere, a gunshot out of the blue, but you have no idea what I’ve been through.
You say I’m too much to handle, but you don’t know how hard it is for me to handle myself. You don’t understand how hard it is for me to get out of bed, get a shower or simply brush my teeth. You don’t understand what it feels like to like with a brain you don’t recognize.
You don’t know how terrible it is to look in the mirror and see a stranger looking back at me. You have no idea how ugly the thoughts sound when they say that I must hurt myself because I deserve it.
You just don’t know how terrifying depression is.

I’ve been living with this for the last 10 years of my life, but you never noticed and you were right there. You were right here where there’s nothing left but a fading shadow of what you once were: someone important in my life.

As I said, thank you. For the time you spent with me and for the time you left.

Was it because of my mental illness?
Was it because you grew tired of me?
Was it because you just didn’t like me anymore?
I don’t know.

But what I do know is that I’m grateful for it because it made me a stronger person, a better person and made me revaluate all my relationships. I’ve never expected you to understand, but just being there with me was important, but you didn’t and you won’t because you don’t deserve it. The sun will shine on me again, step by step I’ll accomplish all my goals because I will survive.

I will not let the stigma win again.
I will not let depression win.
I will win.

Photo credit: Mina Sipetic/Getty Images

Originally published: August 3, 2019
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