Stories of a Survivor

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I’ve been hurt. I’ve been mad. I’ve been sad. I’ve felt alone. I’ve felt out of place. I’ve been bullied. I’ve been through hell and back. Sometimes, I’ve barely escaped unscathed and sometimes, the scars inside my body will probably never heal. Living in stigma is like getting tossed into the garbage.

Mental illness knows no age. It doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t matter who you are and where you come from, it will come for you at some point in your life. No one is immune to mental illness and no one is immune to trauma either.

Imagine you’re on an airplane and the plane is heading towards the ground for a crash landing. You can’t do anything to stop the crash in your head from happening. It just happens. Living life in darkness is like sliding down a slide that’s headed to the point of no return.

Everyday is different: some days are good and others are bad days. When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. I suffer on a daily basis encountered so many run ins with depression, anxiety, panic attacks, binge eating, diabetes, weight gain, and insomnia along with sleep deprivation. The pain is almost unbearable at times. In my 34 years, you think that with all of this suffering that I endured that I would be much older or ended my suffering. But I don’t. I have encountered many meltdowns before and I have recovered stronger than ever.

But look into my eyes and really see the pain. The pain of suffering, the constant stigma that affects us sufferers, the bullying and the endless tears. You may ask how I do deal with this on a daily basis. Frankly, I take it day by day and in baby steps. Small victories such as getting out of bed is a huge win for me. For many sufferers, this is the hardest part of the day. But I force myself out of my comfort zone and stick to my routine. I get up and get ready for work and go about on with my day. This took years of training on my part to establish a routine with depression. This is not easy and never will be. But I do it.

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I’ve been in recovery twice since 2005 and mostly recently, in April. Those experiences have changed my life in so many ways. Too many things were happening in my life at the time and I didn’t handle those things in the right way. I started withdrawing from society and friends. I isolated myself and cried in silence. I covered up my pain with food. Before I knew it, I was a binge eater. I would sneak food into my room and eat until I couldn’t anymore. My weight ballooned like never before. I was living in denial. I said: “I don’t have a problem.” When I was 21, I was more into alcohol because I was legal and it was a way of dealing with the stress in my life.

But it took one harrowing moment for me to realize that I had a problem. When you’re on your way to the hospital in an ambulance and you’re experiencing heart attack/stroke like symptoms because you’re stressed, then there’s something going on. I thought I was dying. I didn’t believe that this was happening to me and I had to admit that there was a problem. Talking to a therapist and spending time in recovery was a wake up call. Watching my own mother in a mental hospital numerous times over the years is terrifying beyond belief. Unless you’ve experienced this, then you know what it’s like and how people treat you because you have mental illness.

Yes, I may have mental illness, but does it define me? No way, no how. Never ever let anyone label you or categorize us in a box. Don’t do this. We all have stories, so share them and end the stigma once and for all. I’m a warrior in every way. Don’t call me a victim or weak.

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