It’s hard to admit, especially to yourself, when you feel like an outcast. When you feel as if your only real friend is the person looking back at you in the mirror. They’re the only one who can truly relate to the pain you feel on the inside while life goes on around you. They’re the face that shows your sadness, the mouth that can’t speak up, and the smile that says you’re everything but worried.
I remember the moment I stepped away from the mirror, the moment I realized nobody really understood me. It took me until then to accept the fact that I had more or less been living two different lives. On the outside, I was a friendly, caring, and outgoing sister, daughter, cousin, and friend. On the inside, I fought a never-ending battle with anxiety and depression.
I refused to admit it, even to myself, that I was 1 out of 42.5 million people in America living with a mental illness. I had never heard anything positive come from those two words. My life rolled on as it had been for the 19 years before, as if I was living that “perfect” life that everybody told me I had been.
Then I experienced a crisis. I went to sleep crying, woke up crying, and would start crying in the middle of the day for no apparent reason. I constantly thought about what life for others would be like without me in it. Would it really even change? Would anybody even realize I was gone?
When I knew I wasn’t ok and needed help immediately, I couldn’t even say the word suicide. All that came out of my mouth was “I’m not ok.” And guess what, just like everybody thought I had a perfect life, nobody believed me. They thought I was just being a drama queen. My mom even refused to miss her flight back home from visiting me at school, telling me to have a friend go with me to the emergency room. At that point, I was convinced the only way anybody would believe what I was going through was by doing the unthinkable. That’s the vicious cycle, the reason that every 30 seconds, someone in the world takes his or her own life.
Anxiety and depression are misconceived to be self-inflicted when really, they’re unavoidable for those who suffer. They are being worried and sad when nothing is going wrong, only right. Just like Facebook exhibits, people only glorify the good in life rather than the truth. They have no problem sharing when they landed their dream job, but some would rather delete their account than share that they have been depressed for a week and can’t get out of bed. Everyone would rather ignore the problem than take it into his or her own hands. When it happened to me, the problem was one I couldn’t ignore.
I decided that it was time to make everybody else’s problem my own, not make my problem everybody else’s. I became a voice for those too scared to speak up about their mental illness. I began to care more about showing the world who I really was than about how others saw me. I turned my illness into a blessing, something I wake up thankful for everyday. Not everybody is lucky enough to have a challenge to face every single solitary day of his or her life. Nobody should be afraid of the elephant in the room.