Talking about this isn’t easy. There is a reason it’s known as the “silent illness.” However, ignoring it or pretending it doesn’t exist just extends the stigma.
They say admitting is the first step, so here it is: I have a mental illness.
No, I don’t have any scars or open wounds or oxygen tubes in my nose. If that is what you think defines an illness, that needs to change.
I suffer from depression and severe panic disorder. Does your perception of me change? That’s the fear of those who suffer of a mental illness: how people will perceive those of us who struggle with an invisible illness.
We are afraid. Afraid of judgment from those we know and those we don’t. Afraid of losing friends and acquaintances because they can’t understand. Afraid of rejection.
Personally, I have a difficult time sitting through classes. I have an irrational fear that I will have a panic attack in class, thus causing a panic attack. The fear causes more fear.
However, every individual has his or her own struggle specific to them.
There are more Boise State students suffering from a mental illness than you think.
Take a second and look at the people around you. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) one in four Americans suffers from some type mental disorder, and one in seventeen suffer from a severe form of mental illness.
Take your nose out of this article for just one second and look around. Find four people who are walking by; one of them is silently suffering. Now take a look around in one of your classes. At least one of your peers is suspected to have a severe disorder.
The point is, don’t judge us. Just because we suffer with an ailment that is unknown to those who don’t suffer from it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. We’re not making it up.
The truth is, most of us live normal lives and can handle our ailment. Sure, there are days when it’s difficult to do even simple tasks like going to class, but it shouldn’t be a defining trait.
I ask that you learn the facts before you judge people with mental illnesses. Get to know us and see that we aren’t crazy like the media portrays us. Lets erase the stigma that is attached to mental illnesses.