We Shouldn't Suffer in Silence
By: Kira Dionne
Just because you can’t see my illness doesn’t mean it isn’t real. Just because you don’t understand where my pain is coming from doesn’t mean it isn’t valid. Just because you don’t accept my suffering doesn’t mean that I am any less of a person than you are. Just because you don’t know what it’s like to have a mental illness doesn’t mean they don’t exist. When you get an injury, or get sick, you can cry and complain and scream to the world about what you’re going through, and they listen. But when I cry or complain or scream, or even talk about what is going on in my mind, I get ridiculed, alienated, put into a box and thrown away with the “damaged goods.” Society preaches about how important it is to see the warning signs of mental illness, and get people help when they need it, yet whenever anyone opens up they get isolated and looked down upon. No one wants to hear about my eating disorder, my panic attacks, my depressive episodes, my self harm. But please, continue talking about your runny nose and sprained ankle. We listen to your pains and help with your problems. The least you could do is return the favor. We shouldn’t be forced to suffer in silence.
Human beings have a natural need to be with other people. It’s how we survive. So it’s only natural to want to talk to people, especially when you are going through something difficult. But nothing is harder than not having someone to trust, someone to talk to. I’m sure that plenty of people have gotten to that stage where they are so vulnerable they will open up to anyone, I know I have. But when you do that you find those people who don’t really care. Those people that coincide with society's beliefs on mental illness. Those people who don’t want to help. It’s those people who make it even harder to open up to people who actually care about you. When they come along, you’ll be less likely to trust them and open up due to all of those people in the past who have done you wrong. Which is a shame, because once you find those people, or that person, who care about you, you don’t feel alone anymore. You feel like you aren’t going through this completely by yourself, and that in itself can work miracles.
When you are put into that box of having to deal with mental illness alone, everything seems pointless. Your life seems like an endless black hole that is inescapable, but I promise you it’s not. It is so hard to pull yourself out of any less-than-ideal mental state, but if you can find ways to cope or people to turn to, it helps immensely. Things like coping methods, or friends, are not necessarily a permanent solution, but every little thing helps. Step by step you can get through whatever it is that plagues you, and one step that is incredibly important is finding someone so you don’t have to do it alone.
Loneliness plagues you like nothing else at the darkest points of time. It can make a good situation bad and a bad situation worse. It is so important to have that support system in place for when you have those good days, but even more so for when the rough ones come. The hardest part is opening up, and letting people in. The fear of judgement, ridicule, even more loneliness, is crippling. Trying to find those people who genuinely care in a sea of conformists who want nothing more than to be accepted is difficult, but the result of finding them is so rewarding. Not all people are trying to hurt you, and the only way you will find those people who have your best interest in heart is to open up. Coming from someone who spent years bottling everything up inside, it is so relieving to have someone to openly talk to without fear of judgement.
Don’t let the thought of society not accepting you force you to struggle alone. There are so many different resources that you can use to try and make whatever it is that you’re going through a little bit better. It may be redundant, and you may hear this from every single person who knows what you are going through, but it does get better. The darkness fades, the good days will stay. You’re in the eye of the storm right now, but it will clear up eventually. As long as you know that in the roller coaster of life you get both the ups and the downs, and that neither last forever, it might make it a little easier. Permanent solutions for mental illness don’t really exist. But you can find things that help make it better, things that remind you to smile and that the good times really do exist. Don’t keep all your emotions inside. Whether it is talking to someone, writing in a rant journal, screaming off the side of a mountain, find someway to get your feelings out.
The stigma that society puts on mental health is preventing so many people from getting the help that they need, the help that they deserve. My message to everyone out there that might be suffering, and in need of someone to turn to, is reach out. Even if you don’t have a physical person in your life that you can talk to, there are always ways to find people. The Buddy Project is a great organization that can introduce you to great people. There are hotlines that you can call. You can reach out to me, or people like me, who are writing these articles so that you know you are not alone. You always have options, so go out on a limb, take a risk, find someone who will help you. It may be scary at first, but what can come of it will be so important.
You are strong. You are beautiful. You are empowering. You are important. You deserve to feel loved. You can do this, you can get through this. You are not alone. We can do this, we can get through this. Together. You don’t have to suffer in silence.
Image credit to littlelamb on Redubble.