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Why My Mental Illness Isn't Like a Movie Stereotype

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We have all seen the movies — the “hopeless,” anxiety-ridden girl who is saved by the knight in shining armor. Or the boy who is so depressed but love makes him decide life is worth living.

We have seen the movies, we have read the books and we all love them, but they’re not real. My mental illness isn’t romantic. You can’t fix it by loving me, or by showing me a new way to look at the world, and although it might make me feel better it won’t fix my brain.

My mental illness is not a romantic comedy, something that can be fixed by attaching himself to someone. My mental illness is serious, and you cannot fix it. That’s a hard pill to swallow, I know it is. You want to fix me. You want to make me better. And I appreciate it, I truly do, but I am not a project. Medication, therapy, meditation and your support will all make it easier for me to handle my illness, but it isn’t romantic.

It won’t be the topic of many deep conversations; I’ll probably try to talk as little as I can about it. I won’t sit there and tell you my war stories — you don’t need to hear them. It’s hard enough to fight this battle without you trying to save me. It might sound harsh, but this is my dragon to slay. Thank you for loving and supporting me, but please don’t romanticize my mental illness. You’ll end up disappointed I’m not fixable, and I’ll end up blaming myself for not being able to be fixed.

So love me, support me, hold me when I cry, let me talk when I want to talk, and hand me the sword when it comes time to fight and slay the dragon. My illness isn’t romantic; it’s an illness. With your help, I can learn to live with it, but neither of us can make it go away. And the sooner we both realize that, the better.

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Unsplash photo via Everton Vila

Originally published: April 24, 2017
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