“Oh god,” I thought, staring at the other girls in the room, socializing and laughing and enjoying themselves, “Oh god…” it had just hit me; a truth I’d been running from for years, “Oh…god, I’m..I’m mentally ill.”
All I’d ever heard growing up was that if you were mentally ill, you were a sinner. That you wouldn’t have nearly as many romantic partners, and that you were less likely to be hired. That you could easily be tossed out by your parents, disowned by your entire family, and berated by society, all for something you can’t control. It hit me like a ton of bricks, as such life changing revelations often do. It started innocently enough, thinking I wasn’t good enough to do something, or then that I would never think those sorts of things about myself. Then it got worse. Then I wasn’t getting out of bed, and I wasn’t bathing as often. My eating habits were getting worse too. Before I knew it, I was searching the internet for any sort of help, typing things into a search engine such as “I might be sick” or “Mentally ill discrimination”.
I went to see a therapist who told me to try and go to a support group. Maybe even bring my parents. That lots of families go through this and it’s perfectly normal…but if it were perfectly normal, why did everyone talk about it behind closed doors and in such hushed voices? I started to learn very quickly to not tell my parents unless I was absolutely sure, because once I came out about it, there would be no going back. I was obsessed though, staring at these…normal people…and how easily they could interact with one another. How easily it came to them. How they didn’t seem to question themselves or second guess everything around them. The friends I had didn’t do this either. They could talk, they could think positively. It was infuriating. I wanted to be like them. Well, it turns out they were right, I should’ve thought before telling my parents, because once I did I got the usual comments and questions:
“Have you thought about trying to be happy?”
“It’s just a phase, you’ll see. You’re going to be fine tomorrow.”
“You’ve never shown signs of being sick before!”
But once it sunk in, once the reality had settled, they knew it was true. Now when I visited, they only referred to me as ‘their sick daughter’. I was soon referenced in conversation as ‘you know, I have a sick daughter, and etc’. It became my personality, my identity, my entire being. I wanted to fix this, but I felt shameful for not accepting myself. I’m sick. Why try and run away from that? I should be proud and respect myself. Yes, I’m sick. I’m mentally ill. I have emotional and psychological problems, but I’m still a human being and there’s tons of people just like me. It’s nothing to feel badly about. Friends started to try and hook me up with their other sick friends. They told me, “You should go out with my friend, she’s just like you, you two would get along so well!”
I’m mentally ill. This is just who I am. Try and put me down, try and pass bills about me, tell me I need help or don’t deserve the same human rights or respect as everyone else, but in the end, you and I are not so different. I’ve just accepted myself. I know who I am now.
And I’m happy about it.
Disclaimer: This is not meant to be offensive. It’s meant as a satirical look at ‘coming out’ as mentally ill and how we might treat people if they had to ‘come out’ for things such as mental health. I’m not in any way comparing the two, or saying ‘mental illness’ is an analogy for being gay. I’m gay. I’m also mentally ill. They are mutually exclusive. Believe me. I was sick long before I knew I was gay.