I am in a place where mental illness doesn’t exist.
It’s a utopia where one can be in control of their emotions and mind at all times. Where no one kills themselves because they have a void inside them they can’t fill, where no one slowly wastes away because the thought of eating makes them throw up, where no one stays home for weeks and weeks because getting up feels like lifting the sky.
Unfortunately, in this utopia, mental illness does exist. It’s just in hiding. In this ‘utopia’, the people who kill themselves are just weak, those who waste away needed to be stronger, and the ones who can never leave the house are just lazy. I’m in a world of denial.
Everyone around me seems ill, but everyone around me also thinks its normal. My friend had a panic attack and then got angry at herself for having one because “it interferes with her studies”. People I know have depression but mask it with loose friendships and a tight smile. Everyone I know is falling apart but sewing themselves back together. Except that the thread gets weaker and weaker with every patch.
Because everyone is sewing themselves back together to seem normal, it makes us all feel even crazier. Am I the only one who is feeling this way? Why do I feel this way? Am I just weak or lazy? We ask these questions because no one tells us that our issue isn’t as simple as idleness, it’s a complex illness that takes years to treat and work through. When I tell people that every month, I sink into depression – depression where I can’t work, I don’t have the motivation to eat, and where I don’t care about anything but sleep – they look confused. Some of them assume depression isn’t really real – it’s a trick of the mind. A self fulfilling prophecy.
I wish I could tell myself that when I’m hugging my pillow while lying on the ground, sobbing, but not knowing why. I wish I could wipe away the tears and say “it’s just a trick of the mind” and then get up as if nothing is happening.
But I can’t. Because if it’s a trick or trap of the mind it’s a damn good one, because I can’t seem to find my way out. Especially not when no one is willing to give me a hand up because they refuse to see the trap at all.
“Guys!” I yell, “I’m not standing in a sea of loneliness and despair because I like it! Come help me out!”
“You’re weak. That’s why you’re standing there. If you really wanted to get better, you would swim yourself,” they reply
What they don’t realize is that the current is against me.
It’s easy to wrap mental illness up and say that therapy and pills and behavioral changes are the best cures, but if enough adults tell me that I’m normal, I’m just being weak, I might actually start believing it. It might be a long time before I realize that nothing is actually normal, and that I’m actually strong for fighting a disease for so long. By that time, I will have struggled for ages without therapy, will decide against it, then spend the rest of my days in deep depression.
When adults and the environment don’t accept mental illnesses as what they are, it can be more traumatizing than the illness itself. People end up feeling even more alone, even more hurt, and often wallow into themselves, which just makes it harder to recover. It makes us feel like we’re going crazy because we don’t know why we feel so sad or angry or anxious all the time, but everyone around us is saying that we can simply “control” it.
I hope that one day others won’t have to live in this dystopia. I hope that the world can accept mental illness, stop discriminating against those that suffer from mental illness, and that no other person will have to feel so alone, like their calls for help are being echoed back with no answer.