I speak openly about my mental illness, however because of the stigma people are scared to speak up, and I completely understand why. When I tell people I have schizophrenia, they think I am this major crazy unstable insane person who can’t keep a sentence together, and right there in that moment they think I might hurt them. Seriously people, I can understand this kind of reaction years ago (that’s a whole other story trust me because I experienced the stigma firsthand), but yes I look completely sane, most people with a mental illness do look like everyone else, they are not crazy, they are not insane, they will not hurt you, they are just people, like me, trying to live a normal and decent life.
I have chosen to be so open about my experience, because I know, like everyone else should know, that there is no shame in having any mental illness and there is no shame in having any illness.
One of the most difficult parts of my illness is people thinking that I do not have a mental illness. I have to explain that I still suffer, just because I act or appear “normal” (I don’t like using the word normal at all) it doesn’t mean I don’t have an illness. Every day I have experiences that are difficult for me. I have learned to cope and manage, however I still have a chronic mental illness. Having to explain this every time I do something somewhat out of the ordinary (again don’t like the word ordinary), is very difficult for me.
I also feel like when I say even though I am fine I still struggle, people think I am going to lose my mind and hurt them or people around them. That is not what I am saying here, I just need a little time to myself to figure out how to handle the situation, I’ve learned ways to cope, especially when dealing with anxiety and my obsessive compulsive disorder, and eventually, it sometimes takes an hour or a day, I return to being able to live in this world, again, still with a chronic mental illness.
My goal in this life is to change people’s perspective and to change the stigma. That is why I have been so open. My goal is that no one, and I mean no one, feels any shame in having a mental illness. So, if I have to take a couple stares and comments to make sure everyone feels comfortable having a mental illness, then that is and has always been fine by me.