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Shattering stereotypes, unveiling the real me: Jess finds support for depression and anxiety through therapy.

"You are not defined by what people say or do to you."

Written story

Share your stigma experience.

Depression Disorder. Major Depression Disorder. Anxiety Disorder. Bipolar Disorder. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Eating Disorder. Stress.

There are over 200 confirmed forms of mental illness that affect 450 million people in the world. Crazy. Psychotic. Insane. Sad. Miserable. Pessimistic. Negative. Annoying. Self-pity. Self-centered. Introverted. All of these terms have been used to describe someone who suffers from a mental illness, and those are just a few of the thousands of stereotypes that come along with any disorder. Major Depression Disorder. Anxiety Disorder. Stress. I am personally affected by these three forms of mental illness. Happy. Motivated. Hard-working. Optimistic. Selfless. Smiling. Positive. Out-going. Social. Those are all characteristics I believe I carry, or I have been described by others as being any of those terms.

Life is hard. Every day, every single person faces a challenge, no matter how difficult. For some people, the hardest challenge they might face in a day is doing well on a test, or perfectly executing a meeting with their boss. For others, the most difficult activity of their day is simply getting out of bed, or not having an emotional breakdown at work. We all struggle sometimes- that’s just a part of life. Everyone is different, therefore no one deals with their problems in the same way as another.

Before I was diagnosed, my most difficult task was getting out of bed. I sat back and watched as my grades plummeted, my friends stopped asking me to hang out, and my body withered away. I did not yet know how to cope with the way I felt every day, and had no idea why it was so difficult for me to enjoy my life. However, I would throw on a smile anytime I made it out of my bed and act like everything was okay, so no one would see the pain I was going through every single day. I thought I was alone. I didn’t think it was possible for anyone to understand what I was feeling. I was called crazy. I was accused of throwing myself a pity-party for no reason. I was told to stop being sad because I had no reason to be. I was told to just get over it. I started to believe what I was being told, and got so far down that I hit rock bottom; a place I never knew I was capable of reaching. I’m not afraid to admit I see a psychologist, or that I have to take medications every day for my depression and anxiety.

The people who judged me, who defined me by my mental illness, see me now and see the person I really am. I have always been this person, but I have a condition out of my control I am forced to deal with every single day of my life. I went through a difficult time, but so does everyone.

How did you overcome this experience?

I went to abbot northwestern in Minneapolis where I was able to express my feelings and not be judged because people around me understood.

Help others by sharing a brief, positive message.

You are not defined by what people say or do to you. Help is so worth it and talking to someone is the best thing for you.