After 2 years of acknowledging my illness and a year and a half of writing about it I have become stuck. I’ve shared my story, I have been very open about my treatment and struggle and I have tried to speak out. I recently had to face just how difficult breaking the stigma of mental illness can be. That realization is frustrating and discouraging.
When we don’t talk about Mental Illness, we feed the stigma and teach sufferers that our illness doesn’t matter as much as other illnesses and we need to hide it. When we hide our illnesses we feed the evil thoughts and only increase our suffering. So I became open about what I go through, But what I have had to come to terms with, is that by speaking out and sharing my story, I result in placing my validity, story, illness and character in to question. I started researching and this is a common issue, many who, like me, choose to share their story get called out for seeking attention. In some cases we are led to believe that we are making up our illness or over reacting or trying to get attention. Once others reach this conclusion it seems that their writing tends to teeter out until it stops. It’s hard to want to share such personal experiences with people who only feed and spew the same thoughts our mind tells us every day: that we are worthless, attention seeking selfish people, that are bringing down others with our negativity and trying to take something that is only in our heads and make it real. They tell us we make things bigger and worse than they are, that we don’t deserve to act like our struggle is the same as those with more visible illnesses and disabilities.
But here is the thing; I fight every single day with my own mind to fight those thoughts. I do not need to allow others to undo the hard work that I do, just so they can feel better about them selves.
So let me clear a few things up. My name is Valerie; I use multiple treatments to fight my mental illness. I don’t focus on my diagnosis much but I know for sure I have depression and panic/anxiety disorder but at the end of the day I refer to it as a mental illness or MI. The reasoning is that the specific diagnosis’s can be wrong, but its part of the bigger picture. Sometimes it is really hard to be in my own head and I struggle. I struggle a lot. But I use Doctors, Medicine, Therapy and a service dog to help me cope and fight.
My name is Valerie, I am a college graduate with a journalism degree and art minor, I have interned and worked for amazing companies. I am a pretty talented artist (Interesting fact, MI’s help increase creativity) and love painting, drawing or writing.
I love reading, and learning new facts. I have two pet turtles and an incredible Dog who is more than just a dog. I have a huge support in my family.
I have learned that being related isn’t the only way you have family but the endless support and encouragement and empathy has led my friends to become a part of my family as well.
I found the love of my life and I get to celebrate our love at our wedding in January, surrounded by those who support us. And then we get to continue our epic story in our house with the support of all those people.
My name is Valerie and by sharing my story, I have learned that I am more than my Mental Illness. I have learned that I have the ability to share my voice and my story to help those who don’t feel that they can, and I will continue to. I will not be silenced by hatred, I will not allow the ignorance of others to silence my voice and belittle my story.
I am more than my illness and I am stronger because of it. So to those who try to belittle my voice I say this, “Thank you. Thank you for reminding me why I began the journey of sharing my story with others, and thank you for giving me the courage to continue even when others try to knock me down.”