42 Photos That Prove Mental Illness Doesn't Discriminate
Some days, the worst part of living with a mental illness is the feeling that you’re alone — that there must be something wrong with you, while everyone else is OK.
And while everyone’s struggle is unique — and not everyone knows what you’re going through — there are people out there who get it, Whether it’s because you share the same diagnosis, struggle with similar symptoms or lived through similar trauma, mental health struggles don’t discriminate, and even though it can sometimes feel like it, we’re never really going through it alone.
To show this, we asked people in our mental health community to share a picture and one thing they wish people knew about their life with mental illness. We want you to remember their faces when you feel alone. Although mental illness can be an isolating experience, we’re all in this together.
Here’s what our community shared with us:
1. “I’m a registered nurse with Bipolar I, BPD, PTSD and panic disorder. My job gives me stability and purpose. I will continue to pursue my nursing education and mental illness won’t stop me from achieving my goals.” — Mackenzie C.
2. “I’m 29, 6-foot-3, I can leg press over 400 pounds, I’m formerly an indy pro wrestler, I ride a very loud motorbike that gets attention wherever I go, I’m a manager in a major company in the U.K. that involves a heavy public facing presence. I am currently under the care of the Home Treatment Team because until last week, I have been in hospital since late February as my anxiety, depression and OCD became too much to handle and I was a danger to myself… Mental illness can hit anyone at any time, it’s ugly and evil. The only way to make things even remotely better is to talk about it openly.” — Sam R.
3. “Suffering with psychosis, generalized anxiety and depression made me feel like I had no life. I battled this by giving life to other things, like animals… I now run a small animal and reptile rescue and sanctuary and work full-time. There is a huge stigma around mental illness and being able to live a normal life, but who says our lives have to be normal?” — Amy D.
4. “Despite having a disorder that makes me out to be a monster, BPD, I am capable of living and loving. I am capable of finding love because I am deserving of love. I am not the made up stereotypes people have of borderline personality disorder. My life with mental illness has shown me I don’t need to listen to the person inside me telling me I’m better off dead. That the emotions will pass and not everyone leaves. My life with mental illness is a rough and rocky road, but I’ve made it this far, why can’t I make it further?” — Haley F.
5. “I have anxiety disorder and depression. It’s not easy to live with both because they’re opposites. Depression tells me not to shower but my anxiety says I have to look nice so people won’t judge me. Constant battles in my head is tiring… don’t assume because I dress well and look presentable doesn’t mean I’m not battling with depression and anxiety. Not everyone ‘looks’ depressed.” — Tash R.
6. “I have BPD, bipolar type 2 and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). I’m studying to be a doctor. My mental illness has made it challenging, but I’m determined to persevere because I know that, because of my struggles with both mental and physical health, I’ll be able to empathize with my future patients in ways that many of my colleagues will not. I’ve endured a lot of struggles throughout the last two years, but all of them will only make me a better doctor.” — Rachael T.
7. “I’m a 49-year-old mother of two. Divorced, as my family finally gave up on me with my four suicide attempts. Recently diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. Endured 12 hospitalizations, ECT and a litany of meds before the diagnosis. Still here.” — Kristy E.
8. “I need people to understand just because I don’t ‘look’ like I am suffering from mental illnesses doesn’t mean I don’t have them. Sending everyone here nothing but love! (Seven years of fighting severe depression, anxiety and OCD).” — Vidhi Purohit
9. “I have depression and high functioning GAD. I started having panic attacks when I was a teenager, but have probably had anxiety for as long as I can remember (it just wasn’t called anxiety when I was a kid). I have a wonderful life, a wonderful career and I am very happy with my life. I have been lucky enough to find a combination of medication and a way of living that keeps most of my symptoms at bay the majority of the time. However, it was a long road to get here and I do have very bad days occasionally. As happy as I am, I am constantly haunted by my biggest fear, which is that I passed on my anxiety and/or depression to my son. I feel like I can protect him from almost anything in this world, except my genes. I never want to see him have to battle the demons that I have been battling for most of my life.” — Allie B.
10. “I’m 22 and have PTSD, borderline personality disorder, major depressive disorder and anxiety as well as being autistic, yet I am a peer leader at my day program and I love to help others who are struggling… I love Batman and two because it reminds me that no day is a mistake, just a lesson.” — Brittany S.
11. “I don’t take a lot of selfies. I have generalized anxiety disorder, adjustment disorder and severe depression. I don’t like talking about it because people think it’s a fad or I’m trying to get attention. I have been to the depths of darkness and was perfectly fine with letting go. I realized I wasn’t living at all. I needed to care for myself and not try to get people to understand. I started focusing on what I needed and it has allowed me to be there for others as well as myself. Mental illness isn’t a death sentence. It’s a gift to see the world differently and be grateful every minute that you made it. I fought to be here and I’m so happy I did. Mental illness can be life or death, it needs to be taken seriously.” — Jenna G.
12. “I’m 23 years old. I’m a recent college graduate. I suffer from generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, social anxiety, OCD, depression and PTSD. I went to counseling for two years while I was attending college. GAD haunted me every day, but it has gotten better recently… All in all, I live a pretty normal life. But I still live with mental illness every second of every day, even if no one knows it. My message is, mental illness doesn’t have any specific ‘look.’ No one is immune to mental illness. It affects everyone differently. You never know what someone is going through. All we ask for is love, support and understanding.” — Jessa P.
13. “I’m a 22-year-old student at my local community college studying to become a nurse practitioner for psychiatry, long term. I’ve been diagnosed with BPD, major depressive disorder and OCD. *Every day* is a struggle. I am constantly trying to force myself to do basic human things (hygiene, eating, etc). For my 22 years so far, this struggle has been real for as long as I can remember. What gets me by? ‘I’m nothing if not a fighter.’ I’m determined to live happily with these afflictions. No good thing comes easy.” — David M.
14. “Depression, anxiety and BPD. I’m never happy, despite the laughing I do with my friends. The noise in my head never stops. I hate that I can’t always openly express myself because of the stigma around mental health.” — Daniel E.
15. “I’m 27, I work full-time in a job I love, I’m completing my master’s at university, I volunteer at a cat shelter on the weekends, I’m a good friend, girlfriend, sibling, daughter, all with anxiety and panic attacks every day. My feelings of inadequacy and fear of failure mean I push myself too hard sometimes, but I’m on medication and have a great therapist. Being high functioning, people often don’t know when I’m suffering, but I’m getting better about being open about my mental health with those I trust.” — Brianna J.
16. “I am 35 years old, battling anxiety and depression. Quit my stressful job and began my recovery journey searching for some normalcy and routine. Getting better each day and getting better at asking for help from others as I feel embarrassed that I can’t even accomplish simple tasks. I look ‘normal’ and put together. I am touched by the support from unexpected acquaintances who now I considered family. Taking one thing at a time.” — IdaXu R.
17. “My very first memory is when I was molested at age 3. On top of that, my parents relationship was very unstable and now, as an adult, I cannot handle change in routine or conflict what so ever. I will forever have mental health issues. Forever.” — Donisha Q.
18. “I’m not lazy, I’m exhausted! And I have no idea what is happening to me either! I need help, I need support and I need love. So if you don’t have any of this get out of my way!” — Anastasia B.
19. “I’m a father of four who struggles with depression, bipolar disorder and extreme anxiety, but I’ve turn my struggles into good. I’ve worked helping others with mental health issues that have to go in-patient… I help them because I know that having your brain working against you is the hardest thing anybody will ever have to deal with… and with the right help it can become something you can make you a stronger person.” — John R.
20. “Bipolar. Proud. LGBT and proud.” — Daniel N.
21. “All of the over-the-top wedding/baby shower/birthday parties/home decorating/crafting/cooking/baking I do is to compensate for the fact that anxiety and day-to-day life crushes my soul most of the time.” — Olivia R.
22. “Chronic anxiety/chronic depression/personality disorder and undiagnosed PTSD because the doctor said I just fell short… I have come to love me..the real me. I know him — he is an amazing man.” — Jim B.
23. “I fight selective mutism, social phobia, general anxiety, PTSD, depression and BPD. I don’t yet have a social life or a job, but am working hard to try to overcome everything so I can. I wish I was as comfortable around people as I am with animals.” — Jennifer P.
24. “Mental illness means that most days, this is closest to a smile I get. When my anxiety gets really bad, I get a bright green ring in my eyes.” — Ben S.
25. “This is the face of a girl who has lived with major depression, anxiety, eating disorders, PTSD and a suicide attempt. Thank you for this wonderful community.” — Katie O.
26. “Diagnosed with bipolar disorder and depression. Very small things trigger breakdowns for me, and over the past few years I’ve worked on becoming a calmer, more accepting person in order to control my mental health on my own because I don’t like medication. I’ve been told I ‘hide it very well’ but I’m really not trying to ‘hide’ anything. I’m just trying to ease my own mind and be happy. It’s a slow process but I believe eventually I’ll be mostly OK. — Dyani P.
27. “I struggled with depression and anxiety since childhood. Through it all, I was able to graduate with my PhD by age 28. I’ve dedicated my career to helping others dealing with mental illness… Using my struggles to help others have been my greatest achievement.” — Nicole F.
28. “Mental health isn’t something we should hide. It’s not the elephant in the room. Many people you encounter daily, and many of us within our lifetime, will face some type of issue dealing with our mental health. It’s much more common than many let on. I have panic disorder, major depressive disorder and borderline personality disorder. I live a pretty normal, functional life at this point. I have my days, my weeks, my months. But, I am a person, a human being with feelings. I want to erase the stigmas attached… We are many. You are loved, and you matter.” — Alex P.
29. “’You don’t seem like a borderline girl’ — I’ve heard this from family, friends and one time from a doctor. They don’t see all my emotional roller coasters rides because they’re all directed at myself. I’m fighting so so hard to keeping it all together but the second I’m alone everything just explodes.” — Christina L.
30. “I have borderline personality disorder, anxiety, ADHD, and depression and self-harm but that doesn’t mean you have to treat me like a china doll, treat me like a normal human being.” — Chelsea S.
31. “I felt good in this photo. Doesn’t happen very often. I’m back in bed today with zero energy to face the world.” — David J. 32. “I’ve been diagnosed with BPD co-morbid with major depressive disorder. I’ve been trying to get into treatment for a long time now, but it’s an absolute grind. Finding the motivation to find a job is hard, but finding the discipline to keep said job is even harder. I don’t feel like I have a solid identity; ask me about my hobbies or interests and I draw a blank. I feel like I’m a shapeshifter, a collection of rapid-changing emotions and knowledge, loosely bound together by substance abuse, anger and loneliness. But it’s not all bad, because being a broken thing shapes a different perspective and perception that many people do not have; I can relate to the other broken things in our world and see their beauty and strength, and celebrate their perseverance with them.” — Jauke P. 33. “People often look at me and say, ‘You don’t look like a person with anxiety and depression. My response is what am I suppose to look like then? Mental illness doesn’t have a look on the outside because it is all inside a person’s brain.” — Suraya M.
34. “I have borderline personality disorder, major depressive disorder and anxiety. Mental illness doesn’t have a set appearance. It has many faces and many emotions attached that don’t always show themselves. I go to beauty school every day and nobody would know what I deal with in my alone time.” — Emily M.
35. “Wish people would educate themselves about these things so we don’t have to suffer even more by educating them time and again that they just fail to understand.” — Akanksha C.
36. “I spent years feeling empty being told I was depressed, being pumped full of different types of meds that did nothing but be an even bigger detriment to my happiness… I was rescued and after over 16 years I was finally told I did not have depression and was diagnosed with BPD (EUPD) and now despite my problems, I know truly what is wrong I can rebuild my life, be a better father, and while I will never get back some of the things I have lost, I can face the world and try to get through things one day at a time. In my eyes I had everything but BPD didn’t care and now every day will be a battle and I won’t win every time but I will live to fight another day!” — Jonny G.
37. “I recently found out I have BPD. It was kind of a relief to me because it explained a lot of things that were happening in my life for the past few years — my impulsive behavior, my drug consumption… I try to keep a positive attitude. I am working right now to reach my goals.” — Jesús M.
38. “I am a former Miss Maryland for the Miss World Organization— and I am diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. Despite appearances, my mental illness is real and I struggle occasionally with my symptoms and have been hospitalized several times in the past. Just because I have a mental illness does not mean that I cannot achieve my dreams, inspire others, or make a difference in my community. We are just as capable as anyone else. My mental illness does not define me.” — Syanne C.
39. “I’m a kindergarten teacher. Have a great career. I had my daughter on 12/12/16. Everything went downhill from there. I suffered from postpartum depression and anxiety. Still to this day I suffer every day from depression and anxiety. From the outside you would never see what I’ve been through or go through. Mental illness does not discriminate.” — Mande Marie
40. “I am an only child. It took my parents years to have me, so when I finally came along I was their miracle child. I had a wonderful upbringing, and every reason to be happy and mentally healthy. However, mental illness does not discriminate. The guilt and embarrassment that came with feeling anything but mentally healthy, which was put on me by others as well as myself, consumed me. For years I felt so ashamed and told myself I was weak for feeling depressed…Depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and other mental illnesses can get anyone, at any point in their lives. To judge someone for experiencing mental illness is ignorant and cruel; I can almost guarantee that they are hard enough on themselves without the added judgment. A little compassion can go a long way.” — Lindsay B.
41. “People never stop to question if there’s a reason why you are always cheerful, friendly, hard working, and perfectionistic, they just assume that you are fine. The reality is that often times I’m putting up a front because I’m terrified of what people will think, say if they know the truth and see who I really am: a terrible mess who feels everything too much and spends hours planning every single detail to avoid the unexpected or judgment from others.” — Megan G.
42. “Hi. I [have] social anxiety (in certain situations ) and on-and-off depression for the last 15-odd years. Fighting it with hope and any inner strength I can find in me day by day, and over and over and over and over etc. etc.. life’s tough, I’m tougher.” — Fhil L.