I’m tired of being silent: This is what it’s like to live with mental illnesses


Jahlea Douglas

Sophomore Lyn Jarrell is a staff writer for Elkhart Memorial GENESIS who specializes in opinion and column writing.

Lyn Jarrell, Staff writer

Living with mental illnesses is not an easy thing. Mental illness has many stigmas, and it often is considered a taboo topic. But the thing is, many people have it, just not many people are speaking out about it. But I’m tired of being silent

Today, I am going to speak out, and address what it’s truly like to live with mental illnesses. Mental illness runs through my family, from past generations and so-forth, so it wasn’t a shock that I ended up with a few. 

The funny thing is, though, that out of all my siblings, I am the only one who has them. I oftentimes feel as though I’ve gotten the short end of the stick. For me, my mental illnesses were passed down genetically, hence why I have chemical imbalances within my brain. 

To help temporarily level those chemicals, I take medications. Over the years, I’ve had plenty of dosage changes and many check-ups and check- ins, and many therapy sessions. I take medication in the mornings, and then I take more after school, and in the afternoon and on the weekends.

For years I’ve had this routine. And it gets annoying, because I always have to remind myself to take my meds, and sometimes I forget to, which is bad.

Having mental illnesses does not mean that every day of my life is bad. It doesn’t mean that I should be seen much differently than others. 

I just suffer in different ways, and struggle more often than not. But that doesn’t make me incapable of handling most things. My mental illnesses can act up randomly. One day I could be doing fine, and the next day, I’m not. I could have a good week, and then the next week, it’s bad again. 

That is one of the hardest things to deal with, when you have mental illnesses, well, for me, that is. It’s hard, because you could be doing so good, and you’ll believe that things will be better for a while, and then, all of a sudden, everything comes crashing down

It’s like someone flipped a switch. And when that happens, the less hope I have left. By this point in my life, I always expect it to happen. Whenever I have good moments or days, I always think about how it won’t last. I think about how the good will be gone, and then I’ll go back to having the bad. I can’t enjoy the good days as much as I wish I could, because in the back of my mind, I remind myself that the good is only temporary, and that it won’t last. 

It’s a repeated cycle. Good, bad, good, bad.

And I always tell myself that, ‘I don’t want to live the rest of my life like this.’ But I don’t have a choice. I can’t just choose to not have mental illnesses. I can’t just turn it off. 

Through professional consultation and diagnoses, I have major depressive disorder (also known as clinical depression), body dysmorphia, and generalized anxiety disorder. Major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder have almost always been a part of my life. 

Not one person who has them, are affected by these mental illnesses in the same way as another person might be. This is what it’s like to live with mental illnesses (for me, at least); When I am going through good moments, I feel more happy, and I feel like I can breathe

I try to enjoy them as best as I can before I begin to overthink everything. Sometimes, my good moments consist of me having more energy, and I can be more talkative, and a bit more confident. Sometimes, I even feel as though I could conquer the world. 

Sometimes, I have good moments that last for a few weeks, sometimes only a few days, and oftentimes even just one day. But not long after I have dealt with good moments, the bad moments start to creep up. Suddenly, everything that I had felt good about, turns into me feeling bad about. 

When I have my bad moments, they tend to last longer than the good ones. I get so down, and I feel so many negative things. I feel sad, or depressed, and I feel lonely, disappointed, and hurt. I believe things about myself that aren’t necessarily true. I lose interest in many things. The bad moments seem to last longer and longer, each time. 

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve had less good moments. It blows, because I cannot just ‘normally’ live my life. The worst part is, that I have two completely different types of mental illnesses. (Body dysmorphia has been a bit easier to manage, as I’ve gotten older, so I’ll be talking about my other two mental illnesses). It’s hard to live with two opposite mental illnesses, because Major Depression makes me feel like I have no energy, where I’m tired all the time no matter how many hours I sleep, and it makes me want to just curl up in a ball and disappear; to stop trying.

But my anxiety disorder is almost the exact opposite. I get so restless and anxious. I get overwhelming thoughts that just keep rushing through my mind and they won’t stop. It makes me want to run away from my problems and everything else; I lose countless hours of sleep, and I feel like I live inside my own head. Living with both of those is very difficult. 

I’ve done many things in my past to try to cope with my issues. I’ve suffered through putting myself in harmful situations and causing harm to my own self. I’ve been in and out of therapy, and I’ve taken many different medications, but nothing can ‘cure’ me. 

I’ve dealt with other issues, such as body dysmorphia and eating disorders, and while I’ve learned from therapy to better take care of myself, those are things that just won’t go away, either. In most cases, eating disorders rise out of the mental illness of body dysmorphia. Which is why I don’t typically categorize those two differently. I still struggle with body dysmorphia, but like I’ve said, mental illnesses aren’t going to go away; some you just get used to it.

You just have to learn to live with them, and know when to get help.

Life is never easy for anyone. But when you have mental illnesses, you quickly learn that nothing is easy.

When I’m going through the bad times, even the simplest of tasks become like chores. The loss of motivation and the lack of interest makes everything even harder. 

Getting up in the mornings is no easier. I lack the motivation to get up, and I begin to see no point in it, either. The worst part of it all, is that bad moments happen whenever. There isn’t a specific time period of how long you get to have good moments, like I’ve said before. 

At any given moment, I am susceptible to falling short. It can happen even in the worst possible moments, and what really blows, is that, there really isn’t anything I can do about it. I could be sitting in class, feeling fine, and all of a sudden, the bad hits me. Simple thoughts can trigger my mental illnesses to act up as well. 

My mind never seems to rest, and if I think of something, a lot of times, my mind will wander off to other scenarios and it’ll keep snowballing into a huge mess that I am left to deal with on my own. It gets to the point where I don’t want to see or hear or talk to anyone, or do anything that I used to enjoy, because it’d bring back memories, and once I think back to memories, the snowballing occurs and then I’m falling apart without being able to do anything about it. 

I realize that not opening up or reaching out isn’t the healthiest way to live my life, but it’s the safest option for me; to protect me from reoccurring thoughts, past issues, and snowballing problems. No words that I write or say, will ever fully describe how horrible it is. No words can I express that will allow you to see the full extent of what me and others go through on a daily basis

I’m fighting wars inside my head, and I’m fighting against my own self. After years of many therapy visits, I’ve collected many papers and packets on how to use healthy coping mechanisms, and how to safely reach out. But I’ve tried and tried to use the safe mechanisms and to reach out, but it never ends up the way it should. It either makes everything worse, or nothing changes at all. I get dark thoughts, and I think too deeply, and I often feel as though I’m going crazy. 

I don’t really reach out to anyone because I know how things used to work, and then I don’t know how someone may react, and I don’t want to put my problems on someone else. I put brave faces on, and I always fake it. That’s kind of a motto I live by, “fake it till you make it”. 

Only, me ‘making’ it is just me surviving another day. But sometimes even that is too much. Sometimes, I wake up and think, ‘Why am I still alive?’ I often find myself questioning my purpose and my reason for being here; for being anywhere. I get dark thoughts that hinder my ability to think clearly. I think about reasons that I shouldn’t be here. 

Suicide is a touchy subject for me. Years ago, I was put on suicide watch, twice, for reasons that I’m not ready to talk about, but the point of me saying this, is to show you what it’s like to live with what I do (show you as best as possible). That is how serious my mental illnesses are. That is how serious most mental illnesses are. It’s hard for me to reach out, but when I do, whether it be in person, over email, through phone calls, I must be seeking a last resort, a last chance of getting some form of help, before I completely give up. 

I don’t usually talk to people, unless they talk to me first, because I’m afraid. Afraid that they’ll judge me. I overthink everything. And it’s hard to do anything because of that. I don’t leave my house much, and I don’t hang out with people often. And it’s so hard to make friends, let alone keep them.

I’ve lost many people and friends and I don’t understand why, or what happened, but I always end up thinking that it was because I’m not good enough. I don’t like to get close to people, because I know how things usually end, based on previous experiences. And I don’t want to make friends and become close with them, or spend a lot of my time being their friend, only for them to completely dip me, sooner or later.

Why get into something that isn’t going to last? I never expect things to work out, and I always expect the worst of things, and I’m such a pessimist that it’s not even funny.

I try to be optimistic for others, but deep down, I struggle. This is what it’s like to live with the mental illnesses that I have. 

Again, not every person is affected the same way when dealing with mental illnesses. We all process things differently. It’s not a life I wish I had to suffer from, but it’s the only one I got. I hold on for my family. I have so much to offer, but I always hold myself back. 

But I think that I should learn to live the best life possible, and continue to advocate and speak out for those like me; for those who suffer in silence. People with mental illnesses should start to speak out, too. We need people to stop seeing us as inferior, and start to see us as people.