I sit here, tears rolling down my cheeks, dripping onto my black t-shirt. The screen is blurry as I type and wipe away the tears. I have been living with different levels of anxiety and depression for 11 years. That is 4,015 days. I could tell you stories about being forgotten about, hurdles I have had to overcome, ugly stigmas and discrimination. I have been judged based solely on my mental illness. Something that is completely out of my control. I have been fighting for accommodations that others take for granted. Things some people would not think twice about because they are so regular, normal, and expected.
So, I do things differently. Why do we constantly have to point it out? Why does society have such high expectations for a 28-year-old female? Why does me talking about my illness make me attention seeking? Why do people feel the need to tell me things they think I should be doing for my mental illnesses? If I have heard “oh, you should smoke pot, it’ll help you” once I have heard it 100 times. I understand people are just trying to help. But my psychiatrist and I have worked extremely hard to find a medication routine that gives me the best opportunity to be me. And why are we pill shaming people? Would you shame someone for needing insulin because they are diabetic? Why cannot going to therapy be a cool thing?
Everyone deals with some level of anxiety. I just happen to deal with a rather intense amount. Due to this I cannot handle a full-time job, or a typical part time job. Do you know how awkward it is when someone asks me what I am doing with my life, and I try to explain that I am currently taking a break from school because my Mom is battling breast cancer and that I do not have a typical job…full time or part time. What I do have is providing respite hours for families who have children with special needs. And let me tell you, I ******* love it. So many things I do, are not “traditional” and I am used to being *that* girl.
I am not asking for a lot, when you think about it. I am asking to be given the tools I need in order for myself to be successful. I am asking for acceptance and accommodations. I have been doing it for a long time now. I have cried too many times to count for feeling like an outcast, for being different.
It is hard when people do not accept something that is a part of you. I can put a smile on my face and hide my anxiety, but why would I do that? Why should I ever feel like I must hide? For the comfort of others? Why? You either like me or you do not. You either accept me for me and all that comes with that, or you do not. You choose to be accepting or not. It is that simple.
I am 28 years old. A good listener, who wears her heart on her sleeve. I am a proud hockey coach, an avid reader, a Toronto Raptors basketball lover. I know some sign language; I love breaking down barriers to provide inclusion for all. I love country music and will do anything for someone I care about. I do not settle for half @$$ things. I need consistency in my life. I am a big sister, a daughter, a granddaughter, a niece, a cousin, a friend. I am so much more than my diagnosis. But until better understand my diagnosis my fight is not over. I will not be silent.