When I tried to kill myself when I was 13, I didn't realize that my suicide attempt was a symptom of mental illness. In fact, to be honest, I tried to hide my depression and anxiety from others. I thought that I would be judged -- and I would have been. People with mental illness are judged all the time, as if their illnesses make them bad people.
People with mental illness are NOT bad people, they are just people suffering from an ILLNESS.
Just like someone with Multiple Sclerosis, Diabetes, or even Cancer, I have to visit a Doctor for treatment. My doctors are specialists -- A Psychiatrist and a Clinical Social Worker, instead of a Neurologist, Endocrinologist or Oncologist . My treatment includes therapy and medications- much like other illness. Using both treatment plans help keep my illness in remission, much like other illness.
That is where the similarities end.
I was judged often for having mental illness. I was told:
'Stop being sad! You just need to CHOOSE to be happy!'
'You're not having an anxiety attack, just suck it up!'
'Why are you so afraid to go into a crowd? It's just people!'
'STOP CRYING ALREADY! It's getting annoying!'
I honestly don't think someone would tell a diabetic to quit having a diabetic coma, or tell a cancer patient to just stop throwing up from chemo, or tell a MS patient to just drop the wheelchair and get up and walk, but somehow people think it's okay to trivialize and stigmatize the effects of mental illness. One of the very worst parts of having mental illness is that feeling of being invisible.
I had a chance to take part in a project with some other teens who have felt the stigma of mental illness. Whitney Woerz invited us to share our mental health stories in her video. We are working with Glenn Close's BringChange 2 Mind to help #EndTheStigma of mental illness by talking about it.
Here we are, talking about it!
I just turned 18, and I thought that my biggest wish would be to try and help other people with mental illness. I think the best way help end the stigma of mental illness is by talking about it! We need to make it so that no one is afraid to say, Hey, I have social anxiety and I am need to walk away for a few minutes, or I suffer from depression and am having a hard time right now.
All the proceeds form the sale of Ghost Story go to Bring Change 2 Mind, who have made great strides in helping people share their stories about mental illness. Sharing our stories is sharing our strength. For my birthday I asked people to purchase a download of Ghost Story. Whitney's recording studio, 600 Volt promised to match the funds raised to help bring awareness to the cause!
Just think about a world where someone is treated the same for a broken arm as having a broken spirit, and all that mattered was to get them the help they needed. That's the world I want to grow up in.
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.