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End the Stigma

Mental illness does not define you.

Living with a mental illness is fucking rough.

It's even harder when you constantly have people telling you that you're faking, or to get over it, or that you're just being dramatic. I have bipolar mixed affective disorder and severe PTSD. From it, I get intense anxiety about EVERYTHING, depression, self harming thoughts, suicidal ideations, horrible night terrors, and mood swings from hell. I also get dissociation, something my therapist calls catastrophizing, and numbness. 

A psychiatrist once told me that I have the emotional skin of a third degree burn victim. Everything hurts. My highs are in the stars, and my lows are in hell. The thought of crowds sends me spiraling into a panic attack, but the thought of death calms me. I think about things I shouldn't. When I see the scars on my arm, I can still see the blood. When I see a bottle of pills, I can still feel my stomach being pumped. I can't hold a gun to this day without fear of either panicking, or using it to finish what I started as a child. I am 22-years-old, since 10 I have attempted suicide 13 times. Pills, knives, broken glass, a gun. I've tried it all. But (obviously) nothing worked. I can't remember a time in my life where I haven't felt this way. When I felt normal. I tried to drink the pain away, smoke it away, drugs, tried to bleed it out of myself, therapy, meds, fucking everything and it never stops. My brain never stops, my feelings never stop. The calmest I ever get is when I feel so broken I am completely numb and I feel nothing but emptiness and pain and sadness. 

I am lost. I am scared. I am confused. But I am strong. And I will survive. I am not fucking crazy, I am not faking it, I'm not making it a bigger deal than it should be. My mental illness is real, but it is not who I am. I am not defined by these things in my head that I never asked for. No diagnosis will take over my identity. My mental health is part of me, it influences me, but it is not me. A human cannot solely be defined by the state of their mind. You would never call an old woman just that. She is a mother, grandmother, sister, friend, niece, daughter. A cancer patient is not defined by their tumors, or the chemotherapy. They are defined by their essence, their strength, perseverance, humor, their soul. 

Mental illness is hard to live with. But I will live this life that I have been given. I am strong, funny, passionate. I am kind, gentle, but strong willed. I will have functional relationships like they say I can't. I will make something of myself. I will make myself bigger than post traumatic stress disorder, or bipolar mixed affective disorder. I will work until my last breath to prove that I am worthy of normality, of love, of the same treatment as others. 

My biggest pet peeve? When people treat me like a glass doll that might shatter at any second with the wrong move. When people walk on eggshells so they don't "hurt" me. I appreciate your consideration, but fuck it. Treat me as anyone else. I am not less than, nor more. I am equal. I used to hate my brain. I hated being abnormal, crazy, whatever you want to call it. But now, I know that it is my strength. I can feel things so deeply to my core, it's invigorating. Emotions are a rollercoaster rush that I don't want to get off. I am cautious because of my anxiety. I think things through. I can see the pain in other's eyes, and I have felt their pain, so I help wherever I can. I see my illness as my gift. So I'll use it.

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