Accepting that you may have or even do have a mental illness is, in my opinion, one of the hardest things about the illness itself. On the outside, I come across as this girl that has everything together. To my friends, I’m this goofy, funny (or at least I think I am), super outgoing, and happy girl. To my parents, I am involved in everything, smart, have a lot of friends, their perfect little girl. To my coworkers, I was hardworking, creative, and determined. I wanted to build up this image of being this perfect person that has everything put together and to others I was. But behind all of that, I was really struggling, so I ignored everything.
When I look back on things now, it was so obvious I had anxiety, but I thought the way I felt was normal. The first time I really accepted my mental illness was when I was sitting in my AP Psych class my senior year. It was the day we went over all mental illnesses and what they were. I kept hearing all of these disorders and thinking that they all sounded like me. I convinced myself that it was impossible because I had tons of friends, good grades, so it couldn’t be true.
The next time I really accepted things was my freshmen year of college, I missed the mega bus, and it sent me into a full blown panic attack. I just completely lost it. I was out of control. However, it didn’t happen very often, so I just brushed it off my shoulder.
I’ve been in and out of psychiatrists and counselors for years and years. I never believed any of them because I couldn’t accept it myself that there was something wrong with me. In the fall of 2012, I stopped living my life. I couldn’t go to class, couldn’t go to work, couldn’t leave my apartment, couldn’t get out of bed. I made excuses left and right to my friends and family, so they didn’t know anything was wrong, but there was. On November 17, 2012, I finally went in to see a psychiatrist for good.
This was now the time when my friends and family had difficulty accepting what was going on. The hardest thing for me was to tell my parents. I just texted them what was going on, but they really didn’t understand. I told some of my friends, and it was challenging for them too.
Even today, all this time later, it’s still hard for me to accept. Accepting that you have something wrong with your brain is one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do. No one wants to be viewed as weak or vulnerable. But ever since I have accepted my mental illnesses, I’ve become so much stronger because I allowed myself to grow.
“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy – the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our life” – Brene Brown
By: Jenn Bradley, AiT Contributor