So a while ago, my Modern World Class got to be able to take this survey questionnaire thing. Our teacher told us that it was about health risks and mental behaviors.
And I thought, “Wow, they actually care?”
The test was formatted just like the PSAT’s where you had to bubble in letters on a scantron. I thought I was finally going to be able to freely state what my mental health was actually like without being afraid.
I mean the questionnaire would be anonymous. But, I thought that even though it’s anonymous I would be comfortable enough to tell the truth and not lie. I mean it would be so easy to lie being anonymous, but wanting to not lie is a really big step for me.
So, the test had 80 questions. It was targeted towards high school students and it was focused around things that we personally do. Most of the questions involved alcohol and drugs, and if we’ve ever taken or are taking them.
You know how many questions were about mental health, mental illnesses, mental disorders, mental anything…?
Out of 80.
I mean yes, I get that alcohol and drugs are a huge problem for teenagers today but are those things more important than mental health? Is mental health not as important?
Now, a few weeks prior to taking this questionnaire I went to the doctor for a physical. I actually talked about this on my blog (anxiety rant: checking checkmarks). The doctor gave me a paper and on it were mental health questions, and I actually answered them honestly because I wanted help but I was/am too scared to ask for it verbally. I was so proud of myself for finally being able to want to seek help.
A month later, and nothing. No call home, no email. Nothing.
This is why I’m too scared to speak about my anxiety.
Does anyone even care? Does it matter as much as other things?
I mean 2 years ago (in that same doctor’s office again at a physical) as soon as I failed my eye exam it was an immediate call home… and now? Nothing.
I once read one of my favorite Bollywood actors, suffering from depression, say in an interview…
“When we are suffering from stomach or kidney problems, we are so cool and casual about it. Why (is it that) when we have a problem with (the) brain, which is also an organ, we get scared and feel as if it is our fault, and we need to hide it from people?”
And then the other day I was looking for a paragraph for my English class and I stumbled upon this: https://www.creativenonfiction.org/excerpt/scars/gutkind
In that article it states the same idea:
“…when her teenaged daughter came home from cancer treatment the family received casseroles and friendly visits and offers of support from neighbors and members of her church—but when that same daughter returned six months later from residential treatment for a mental illness, no one knocked on their door.”
Why? Why is there such a stigma around mental illness? Like it’s a disease? Like we’re an alien species? Why does society cut us out from being “normal?” Why can’t they understand that we DON’T WANT TO FEEL THIS WAY?
Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve seen and heard the experience of the stigma around mental illness. It’s been in my life since then.
My mom has schizophrenia, depression, and is bipolar. I’ve seen EVERYONE blame her for what goes on in her mind. Even I used to before I grew up and understood it. I mean I never knew why my mom was happy one moment then shouting the next. Who was she shouting at? It was as if she was shouting at someone, but no one was there next to her. And how come some days she never got out of bed?
This was when I was a little girl. I’m 17 years old now and I happily know more than I knew back then.
I used to see commercials for anti-depressants wondering why people needed pills to be happy, but I finally understand. I went from completely missing the point to being so adamant about it.
If I, a regular girl, could understand the depth of mental illness, why can’t everyone else do it too? Or at least try to?
And it definitely did not take me having my own mental illness to be aware of the true perception of mental illnesses.
I didn’t realize I had a mental illness until last March maybe (sophomore year). I started learning about my mom’s schizophrenia in 8th grade because… I just wanted to understand. From that moment, I learned and felt and understood. I changed my perspective.
And then I figured out that I had my own mental illness. Anxiety. I mean it doesn’t take a doctor or therapist to tell me what I have.
People were asking me “What’s wrong with you?” whenever I didn’t want to participate in social situations. Some people call themselves anti-social but they don’t even know the half of it when you’re stuck in a room full of strangers and they tell you to converse and find new people and you just physically, emotionally, and mentally cannot. I didn’t know what was wrong with me. This was just the way I am, the way I always was. Did I need a label for it? Apparently. I was overthinking things. I could barely breathe when my teacher told me to speak up in class. I worried about things constantly. I couldn’t get my heart to stop palpitating during an anxious situation. I was just drowning.
I remember being in the car with my mom, driving home from school. I just searched up the phrase “Anxiety disorder.”
And I thought, no this isn’t me.
But it was.
I just didn’t want to accept it, because then it would be real.
I would have a disorder, I would suffer from something mentally. This was the start of where I finally understood myself, but people wouldn’t, they wouldn’t even try.
I didn’t want to accept it because people have such a negative attitude to mental disorders. I mean people actually think that my mom is the way she is just to get on everyone’s bad side.
I wanted to fight people because of that. Yes, me, Rebecca, fight people. Because it was so annoying how people used to actually have the AUDACITY to complain to me about my mother, but I was too young to understand why my mother was the way that she is.
People have such a low opinion to those with mental disorders like we’re abnormal or something? Like we shouldn’t be given regular opportunities that “normal” people get.
But, that’s why I didn’t want to accept the fact that I had a mental disorder, but I did, I do. Because people wouldn’t understand me; the people that are inclined to love me wouldn’t understand, just like with my mom. But I had to stop lying to myself that I was suffering and drowning and falling and sinking.
I never thought that I would accept it. But I did, I have. And now? I need help.
I never thought that I would actually want help. Because at the beginning stage, the biggest worry about my anxiety (ironic?) was just accepting it. Once, I accepted it things would be better. Once I accepted it I could get to know my boundaries, I could get to know more about myself and the person I’m becoming. And I did learn those things. But, I never fathomed the fact that I couldn’t handle this by myself.
I never thought that help was something I needed to find a sense of sanity. I thought I could handle it. And I guess I convinced myself that I could for the first few months, but I can’t.
I had mental breakdowns and anxiety attacks before I even knew what mental breakdowns and anxiety attacks actually were. In the beginning stages I had one of the worst mental breakdowns I can ever recall: I was in a bathroom stall for a full hour crying and trying to breathe just because I couldn’t find anyone to sit with at church and I didn’t want to ask anyone if I could sit with them and that just gave me so much anxiety. I thought that my actions were unjustified. I thought that I was being a wimp and loser. I tore myself down. Because of that stupid stigma. I knew that if I even tried to explain this to my dad or my brother they wouldn’t even understand. They would just say, you should’ve just found someone to sit with, but I couldn’t. I can’t.
But I want to stop lying to myself. I can’t help myself. I want professional help. I need it. Just the other day my English teacher said we might have a mini presentation and my heart sank so fast and my anxiety started creeping in before I could even comprehend. The last 40 minutes of class couldn’t seem to go fast enough. Well, the teacher only picked 2 groups to present which fortunately wasn’t me. But unfortunately, the anxiety of that moment scarred me. This is how I’ll continue to react for the rest of my life. I don’t want that. I don’t want my anxiety attacks to depict my feelings and shut me out from the world.
I don’t want to suffer anymore.
I overthink everything humanly possible and it breaks me down to a point where I just want to go to sleep because then everything in my mind would stop running.
Going back around to the questionnaire and the doctor physical and the main point that I’ve strayed from (but happily strayed from because I really needed to get things off my chest)… Do they care? Do they even care?
When you read a story about someone committing suicide it’s just another article for some people. “Oh, they couldn’t handle it.”When people realize someone has a mental illness and they start acting weird towards that person. When the phrases, “mental illness, mental disorder, and mental health” and words depicting them are all forsaken, as if saying them is like a plague.
I want this to stop. I want to feel safe enough to say what I’m suffering from. It’s so easy to tell my friends that I have asthma, but I can’t be able to tell them that I have anxiety.
Why is this perception haunting me? Who created such a disgusting depiction of mental illnesses and disorders?
I just want someone to care more.
I just thought of this, but when I went to the doctor to fill in that mental health paper I realized that all that stuff was on a piece of paper. But when it came to stuff like asking me when I last went to the dentist, eye doctor, and how my sleeping and eating habits were it was all a conversation I had with my physician. How come the stuff I actually cared about had to be squandered to a mere piece of paper instead of being talked about?
Dangerously by Charlie Puth
I Can Only by JoJo ft. Alessia Cara
Too Little Too Late by JoJo