Mental illness has always had the same thing associated with it. You are seen as crazy. Not a person with a mental health problem but, basically, just someone who doesn’t have their shit together. There always whispers, and stares, and that’s why so many people refuse, or don’t want to, get the help they need.
After my life trauma, I had a lot of trouble accepting that I had acquired a mental illness as a result of what happened to me. I felt crazy, and disorganized, out of control but, I had so much trouble admitting I needed help. Mental illness has always had so much stigma attached to it, so many people would rather walk around sick than get the help they need.
It took me three weeks to admit that I had a problem. At first, I brushed it off as everything had just happened so of course I would be traumatized. After a few weeks, it became very difficult for me to act “normal” around people, even my family. PTSD plays tricks on you, shows you shadows that aren’t there, forces you to re-live every single moment, while amplifying every single thing that happened.
I still remember the first panic attack I had, I had been watching 48 Hours Mystery (a show on TLC), and they were showing a story that had similar issues to what I experienced. As had become my normal, I immediately changed the channel, and forced myself to think about something else, anything else except what had happened.
This also happened to be the first day I was left alone, for an extended period of time. I started watching a show on HGTV, and my mind was not letting me think about anything else. For the very first time, I was being forced to re-live the anger, pain, and sheer terror I felt from being attacked. It was running on a loop, like a cassette tape in my head and I couldn’t make it stop. I started breathing faster, my palms were sweaty, and I was crying so hard I couldn’t stop, or breathe. I felt like I was going to die. I was literally paralysed with fear.
That first panic attack gave me a whole new understanding on life. It was my mind’s way of forcing me to deal with what happened. I wasn’t ready for it yet. I’m still not. Even now, talking about what happened is hard for me, even writing about it, makes me a little apprehensive. I want to talk about it, I just can’t.
Some of my friends have had trouble understanding how I am, and how I am dealing with what happened. The only answer I have for them is that everyone deals with trauma in their own way, and I am dealing with it my way for now. Some of them think I should just “get over it”. I wish it were that easy!
Mental illness, whether it be acquired, or genetic, is not something to be ashamed of. It is part of who you are, and it always will be. Getting rid of the stigma surrounding it will only help others get the help they need. If you were a diabetic, you would take insulin, wouldn’t you? Depression, PTSD, bipolar is the same way, it is a disease, and it’s not your fault.
If you or anyone you know is experiencing mental health issues, I urge you to get them (or you), the help you (or they) need. It’s not a crime to be physically ill, it shouldn’t be a crime to be mentally ill.