#DisabilityDiaries2017 - My Experience With Mental Illness - A Response to Highly Illogical Behaviour by John Corey Whaley
I recently read Highly Illogical Behaviour, by John Corey Whaley, and I absolutely loved it. If I could trace the first instance when I was hooked, it would have to be when Lisa mentioned that she had to write an essay on her experience with mental illness for a scholarship for a university.
In high school, mental illness was such a big part of my life. I wasn't diagnosed with a mental illness - no, some of my closest friends were. If I was ever given this topic - "My experience with mental illness" for an essay topic, I honestly have no idea how I'd keep to any word limit, because there's so much I can write on this topic.
My Experience with Mental Illness
By Geraldine Lee
As a child, I never knew what mental illness was. Depression was another word for being sad. Anxiety was another term for being worried. Being bipolar was being crazy. My small, inexperienced mind.
Since then, I've learned a lot.
In high school, I made friends with many people from all different backgrounds. From vibrant people who loved Harry Potter like I did, to quiet people who liked to spend their days in the library studying like I did, I found my people.
In particular, I found two of my best friends - let's call them Daisy and David.
Daisy and I became steadfast friends when we were paired up for a Physics assignment - we found that we loved watching so many similar TV shows, like Castle, Bones, The Mentalist and Once Upon A Time. David, I fell in love with.
Before I knew it, I was staying up late, just to talk to both of them. We had our own group chat going, we would post memes, joke around, and just have fun.
However, that didn't last long.
David told me he had depression. By that time, we were dating and it was crushing, seeing the boy I loved crumble, not knowing who he was anymore. Knowing that he was going through this and I couldn't make it better.
Daisy confided that she had anxiety, and that the psychologist she was seeing might diagnose were with a bipolar disorder. It was painful to hear how uncertain she was, how worried she was, and not know how to help her.
It was painful, to see my friendships fall apart, because I didn't know how to help them.
I've learned three things from my experience with anxiety and depression. Firstly, mental illness should never be romanticised. Secondly, that more people need to know what mental illnesses are. Thirdly, more people need to know how to help others with mental illness.
Here's the thing about mental illness - you can't see them. With a lot of illnesses, they manifest themselves physically, whether it be with a runny nose, red eyes, unusual bruises - with mental illness, that's not always the case.
So when people tell me that mental illness isn't real, or that it's just in people's heads, I know that's not true. Mental illness is just as real as any other illness - and it's critical that we all play a role in treating it, whether it be through doing more research about it, treating it, or just plain old being a good friend.
If you, or you think anyone you know is suffering from a mental illness, please speak up. You don't have to tell me here in the comments - just speak up, see someone, talk to someone about it. Mental illness can be so debilitating.
I've got a few links attached below - I hope they'll come in handy.