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When a Girl in My Class Jokingly Said to Her Friend ‘You Belong in a Mental Hospital’

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It was an ordinary day in fifth period, U.S. history class. The bell hadn’t rung yet and people were walking in and out of the classroom. It was the afternoon and we are all restless, near the end of the school day. The bell rang and the kids in my class started getting settled into their seats. There were a couple of girls in the corner laughing and pushing each other around. I don’t know what exactly they were screaming and laughing about.

When everyone settled and they were they only ones talking, one of the girls yelled to her friend, “You belong in a mental hospital.” I’m sure they were joking, and I’m sure they didn’t understand how it could hurt, but it did. I have obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression.

I try to let go of statements like this. I know people aren’t always educated about mental illness so when they say, “That’s so OCD” or “You’re acting psychotic,” I try to correct them. I try to explain to them how that can hurt, but this one hit me in the core.

I had just come back to school from a three-month stay at a “mental hospital.” (I prefer psychiatric hospital.) My mental illness had hit a low point and I admitted myself into a residential treatment center. Prior to this admission, I had been to two inpatient psychiatric hospitals for suicidal ideation and one outpatient, which unfortunately was unsuccessful for treating my OCD.

The way she phrased this was painful and made me enraged. Little did she know how brave people have to be when they go to treatment. Checking yourself into treatment and asking for help is ultimately one of the hardest things to do. Then, staying in the hospital and work on bettering your mental illness is a journey in itself, even though it is well worth it.

The way she said her friend  “belongs” in one because she was “crazy” didn’t go well with me either. The people I’ve met in these hospitals are the most amazing, creative, caring and interesting people I’ve ever met. I’ve made lifelong friends. The people in these hospitals aren’t “crazy.”

They’re fighting a battle in their brains, from which the symptoms are hard to deal with. It’s terrifying for them and, but we’re surely not crazy. Those people are there to get help because they know they are stronger and bigger than their mental illness. It’s not funny or comical for people to make fun of.

To the girl in my U.S. history class, or anyone for that matter, I hope you will think before you speak. Think about what you’re saying and who it could affect. Try to get informed about mental illness. We are all people. We are all different, but please, don’t continue to spread the stigma around mental illness. It only makes it worse.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page. 

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. 

Originally published: July 27, 2016
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