Stigma

by Ariana, age 15
Stigma Ariana is currently attending St.Saviuor High school in Park Slope and is a sophomore. She's passionate about writing, singing, cheering leading, and enjoys rock climbing.

“You know that feeling when some days, we wake up and we just don’t want to get out of bed? So bedridden that sometimes, it even hurts to breathe. What’s the point of all this?”

                           

You know that feeling when some days, we wake up and we just don’t want to get out of bed? So bedridden that sometimes, it even hurts to breathe.

What’s the point of all this?

Why do I have to get out of bed and put myself out there into a world that doesn’t feel?

But the feelings are strong. We can all feel it.

Or can we?

Maybe the person to my right can feel it, but not everyone is so lucky. Only some of us know what pain feels like. When somebody sticks a knife through you, or better yet, fifteen. But you don’t see what’s on the inside, because you are not me. It’s a constant battle inside. Like your mom, brother, sister, cat, dog died, but it doesn’t go away. It can’t go away.

When the stigma says “get over it.” It’s like a joke or even worse, a tease. Don’t you think if I could, I would?

I’m sorry I don’t want to do anything. Just leave me alone. I’m tired of it making me get the image of jumping off a bridge.

It’s always like you have to be happy, you know?

Do I need to if I can’t? Is that how it works? Can I just decide to be happy?

Like it’s my choice to feel this constant pit of emptiness inside of me?

The fact is, I don’t even know why I’m angry. I just am. I’m sad not because I want to. It’s because I just am. It’s like when somebody turns on and off a light switch.

Because, the word ‘’stigma’’ defines us as some little kid’s entertainment. You know: on, off, on, off.

We need help, but you just don’t see it. You’re so caught up in this fog, that you are blinded by this stigma that makes me feel worthless. I need help.

Or do I?

I hadn’t noticed these cuts and scratches on my body. Have you ever looked at them as anything  besides disappointment? Have you ever just thought for a second how much pain one can be going through? Really, look at them. To you, I may just seem as one who is “attention seeking.” No.

They may just look like random lines and scars, but they tell a story. They tell my story.  A story that I could not put in words. I just couldn’t, and why can’t you understand that?

Remember that day when I didn’t come to school and I told you I was sick?

You didn’t ask why.

Maybe it was better that way, to ask absolutely nothing, to stay completely silent.  Because depression is not always obvious. Nobody walks around with a tag around their neck that reads, “Hello, I’m OCD.”  I don’t walk around saying that my name is Anxiety. And you most certainly do not walk around with a name tag that says, ‘’The World’s Prettiest Girl.”

Remember the day you asked if I was okay?

Well, when I went home that day, you texted me a heart. I think we both knew what happened or what had happened, already happened. What gave it away?

Was it the letter, signed with my name? Or was it the knife on the kitchen counter?

I bet you thought it was just a “phase.” I bet you thought it was just a “mood.” No.

It’s a freaking disease that requires help. When someone has lung cancer, are they crazy? So why should we be labeled in that category?

I didn’t choose to be depressed or angry.

Did you see my footprints in the snow as I ran home as fast as I could? I was alone through every bit of it.

“Why me?” I ask myself everyday as I stare into that filthy mirror.

I tried to kill myself.

But, something, someone inside of me whispered, “don’t.”

I don’t want this “thing” to define me. Will I ever get better? Fifteen years too long. Fifteen years too young. More than a precious life ahead of me.

I am too young. I can’t go back to where I was before. It’s not pretty or happy or in any way, shape, or form easy. It’s not easy.

But I’m doing better. And everyday that’s ahead of me, I continue to do better than the day before. But I’m going to need some help. And now, I’m not afraid to reach out, because I know that I am just like every other person in this world. Normal and unique.

I hate the word “schizo.” It’s not nice. Are schizophrenic people crazy to you? Is that what you think?

Whatever happened to being a “leader” rather than a follower?

I hate that depressed people are labeled as losers, emo, or crazy. I hate that when you ask someone what’s the first word that comes to your mind when you hear the word “mental hospital.” Why is it “crazy people” or “the addicts”? “Drug dealers” or “the insane”? Like in the movies, “insane asylum.”

I hate that we are called names that are so hurtful in ways that you can’t even understand. You just say them like gunshots heading straight for the target.

Why?

Do we look different? Because last time I checked, depression is not always obvious. Maybe it’s how society labels us as: disgusting freaks.

Why?

God damn, why?

Why us?

Guess the main question is: how did we end up as outcasts or “not important?”

And most certainly, taking medication does not mean you are weak.

And how come this stigma targets eating disorders as well?

If a girl is thin, is she anorexic?

Why put labels on our backs of the LGBTQ community too? So, to you it’s different? It’s different, right? Different, right? Different, right? Right?

Oh wait, sorry. It’s my OCD again.

They are not labels or adjectives, so stop!

I’m pretty sure it’s because we’re different? Is it?

If you can’t explain it, then keep your mouth shut.

We are tired of running and dreaming of getting hit by cars. We just want to wake up happy, but sometimes we don’t even want to wake up. Poor mental illness is a killer, but you make it worse due to your actions. Yes, you. Don’t look away, and don’t stop and stare. Don’t take a picture and post it on the media, labeling me as “mental.” Don’t freak out when you see scars on my arms. Don’t leave me when you have seen me at my worst of times.

Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not real. I don’t want to be another statistic for suicide. I don’t want to be labelled. I want to wake up and be myself. Go out into the world and not be ashamed of having depression or bipolar disorder or any other mental illness.

So, if this has to be said, it has to be said…

I am not the stigma, and I no longer want to be.

So break the silence and stop the stigma towards mental health.

 

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