The Gift of Mental Illness - And Why You Should Never Give Up on Life
By: Melanie Berman
1 in 4 American adults struggles with mental health issues. That means someone you know - a friend, a family member, an acquaintance or you. These struggles are not easy. They can range from depression or anxiety, to OCD and Bipolar Disorder, to Borderline Personality Disorder and Schizophrenia. There are all types of levels of severity. As a 22 year old living in Northern California with a Bipolar Spectrum Mood Disorder and OCD, my life has been far from easy. But I would not trade in the mood disorder for a perfectly chemically balanced brain. Yeah, you read that right. I wouldn’t trade the sleepless nights filled with panic or the depressive episodes or even the unexplainable periods of severe irritability. I wouldn’t trade in the broken relationships, the devastation experienced by both myself and my family with every episodic mood swing, the medical leaves of absence from college, having to quit most jobs I start, or even the lack of independence that the mental health challenges have given me. Why, you may ask?! Why not trade it in for an easy, dare I say “normal” life??
Hello, my name is Hannah Darvas, a 19 year old with a huge passion for life, but also a recovered bulimic. I not only had bulimia for 5 years; I was bulimia. It took away everything, destroyed friendships, ruined all happiness and striped me of the wonderful qualities that made me, me. For so long I’d resigned my life to bulimia. Lost hope and began to believe that bulimia would be my future too. Bulimia was a compulsive liar. My life was all supported by foundations made of lies. They were strong. Complex. To cope with loneliness created by my eating disorder, I would time after time return to my only friend; bulimia. Bulimia didn’t visit alone either, it came hand in hand with depths of depression that I wouldn’t wish upon anyone, as well as a devastating self harm addiction.
You find yourself sobbing uncontrollably screaming “I’m not crazy” repeatedly. You don’t understand why you are screaming. You don’t understand why you’re saying those words. You don’t even remember what you’ve been doing for most the day but it doesn’t matter. None of that matters. What matters is that voice inside your head. That is how I spent the last few hours before my hospitalization in my first year of university.
Hi, my name is IZ. Two years ago I was hospitalized for a brief psychotic episode. From then I was diagnosed with Schizophreniform Disorder and now I’m under consideration for Schizophrenia. I let myself be defined by my mental illness for the past two years. It has strained my relationships with friends and family, left me with almost no career prospects and destroyed my old personality.
However, what I still have left is determination. Determination to be successful, to follow my dreams and to prove to the world that people with schizophrenia can live lives worth living. Two years after my first episode, I have grown in ways I would never have imagined. I have questioned my future life decisions after seeing mothers with schizophrenia try to explain to their children their actions. I have met people who may need to live their entire lives in mental hospitals and wondered if that was my future. Through all that, I am still in university and still planning to graduate. I am reaching out to tell people not to give up and that they are not alone. If I am still standing, you can as well.
Hello. My name is Eriq Estrellado Manson. I am 35 years of age and have been dealing with Bipolar One disorder since the age of 20. I had two episodes in which the first one got me fired from Walt Disney World. I could go on and on what happened but well just leave it at that. The second episode happened at 30 when I went to Las Vegas by myself for 4 days with only $100 cash. I survived the trip. The mind is so powerful, limitless when your manic. I feel I am in a better place now and I am not afraid of who I am. Thank you to all to who read this. God Bless!
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