This isn’t particularly easy for me to talk about. It’s funny how easy it is to hide something that makes up such a big piece of your day, your night, your life. I suffer from a handful of mental disorders, a handful too many. I’ve had them before I even know I had them. And so, without doubt, I have never met anyone as loyal as Fear. Fear never leaves my side; he feeds my disorders, strengthens them, trains them to fight me everyday. What makes it so easy—to hide my disorders—is that society has grown to lack empathy, to lack care, to lack humanity. It’s not their fault. You won’t understand, you can’t, not unless if you also suffer. Therefore, everyday, I am glad and grateful for those who do not understand.
But, people think they do, and that’s where the problem begins. There has been a sort of revolution in society. Before, those with mental disorders were completely shunned. No one believed in a mental disorder. Society would attribute symptoms to negative characteristics. Those suffering were told to stop being “sad” and deemed “weird”, that their destruction is a creation of their own.
Mental disorders are treason. It is a person’s mind battling a person’s quality of life, but mental disorders are not consciously made. No one wants a mental disorder, or so you would think.
Today, mental disorders are addressed. There is no longer a dispute over whether mental disorders exist or not. However, just because more people know of mental illness now does not mean they are educated on the topic. Disorders like Bipolar Disorder, Anxiety Disorder, and Major Depressive disorder are being used as adjectives. People often use phrases like “I have anxiety” and “I’m so depressed” in common conversation without realizing how destructive it is to the mental health community. What misusers don’t realize is that “I have anxiety” is a shortened version of “I have an anxiety disorder” which is not to be taken lightly in any capacity.
And then, they are those who misdiagnose themselves with mental disorders and actually identify with these hurtful phrases. Society feeds generations this idea that they must always be happy, and when they are not happy, something is wrong. When taught to believe this, people tend to see feelings like nervousness, sadness, worry, and inconsistency as indicators of disorders.
Mental disorders are irregular. A client who is diagnosed with a mental disorder has cognitions and emotions that are so disruptive, they cannot function properly.
Just because you feel unhappy does not mean you are suffering from a mental disorder. Life isn’t supposed to be easy, there are some things that are supposed to make you anxious (ex: a midterm, a driving test, going to school for the first time, etc.). There are some things that are supposed to make you sad (a breakup, moving, a divorce, a death, etc.). There are experiences that will confuse your emotions. There will be times when you don’t understand your own behavior. There will be times when you feel the symptoms of a disorder, but this does not mean you have a mental disorder. That is what society needs to be reminded of constantly. Life waivers.
Humans have a natural tendency to want to fit in. Most find company comforting. If we take an evolutionary approach, animals who stayed in groups were much more likely to survive than when alone. However, because of this penchant, people have grown this fear of being alone and find themselves conforming in order to fit groups. I believe that because negative feelings can be so frightening, people naturally want to know that their feelings are not individualistic, and so, when discovering a community in which negative feelings are always relevant (the community of those with mental disorders) they feel welcome and comforted. They then misdiagnose themselves.
When people misdiagnose themselves, it is almost insulting. It is almost hurtful that someone could compare a temporary ill feeling to a lifelong disorder. I wish my feelings had such transiency. I wish I had the option to identify with these disorders one day and the next day be happy with life. I wish I could suffer knowing one day I’d grow to enjoy life again.
I have never felt comfortable. Never. Not for a second in my life have I felt at peace. Not even sleep is an escape. My disorders run wild in the chaos I call consciousness. I am okay. I am always okay. But, my “okay” is different from your “okay”. My okay is being afraid to get up in the middle of class to throw out a piece of trash because I can’t handle attention. My okay is assuming every living being hates me. My okay is panicking over the tiniest, most basic issues. My okay is being afraid to raise my hand and share my opinion because I fear I will miscommunicate my own thoughts and disappoint myself. My okay is having at least one panic attack a day. My okay is isolating myself because I think people are better without me. My okay is wishing I were anything but okay. My okay is not okay. But, I am okay.
I am an English and Psychology double major. Literature has taught me about perspective and showed me how one’s experiences mold a character’s personality and thoughts. Every story, every poem, every play has a theme, and a reader will find a theme he/she needs. I may read a poem and believe it is about developing a quality of life while someone else, having read the same poem, may think it’s about competing for success; both themes are correct because they are particular to our own perspectives.
However, my ultimate goal is to become a child clinical psychologist. I want to help kids suffering from mental disorders. I want to help kids with what I’ve suffered with all my life. I found out about my disorders late in my junior year of high school. All my life prior, I knew something was wrong with me, but no one believed me. I felt sick—always; I was often dizzy, nauseous, insomnia, sweating abundantly, I’d hyperventilate often and my heart would palpitate almost as often as it regularly would beat. My body reflected my disorders, but every time I went to the doctor, he/she would say absolutely nothing was wrong with me, that I was perfectly healthy. This made my suffering worse. I was physically fine, but mentally, I was ruined. The second I was educated on my diagnosis, I felt not fear, not anxiety, not discomfort but relief—-I felt relief for the first time in my life. I never got the help I needed, never went to a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist. I was never believed. So, when people identify with words symbolic of disorders like “anxiety” when they are merely nervous, I cannot even begin to describe the turmoil I feel. Those are the people that are normalizing the symptoms of mental disorders. Those are the people subconsciously encouraging the lack of severity mental disorder symptoms are treated with. Those are the people that didn’t help me and aren’t helping those like me.
I want to be who I needed.
I want to be the person people like me need.
I believe I can be.
I need to be.