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Mindy’s Story

“No matter the diagnosis, there is no One Size Fits All in mental illness.”

Share your stigma experience.

I’ve been a victim of the stigma against mental illness many times in my life, but this was the first time I experienced it from someone else with mental illness. I was working in an environment with several coworkers who struggled with mental illness, and had become comfortable with them. At one point I admitted that I struggled with self-harm. A few days later, I learned that another girl, who had scars covering both arms from cutting, said that I was a fake because I claimed to be a cutter. That actually really hurt, because she didn’t know how long and hard I had fought against my illness to gain victory over that struggle, only to recently relapse worse than I had in 10 years. She didn’t know that I had early on developed the coping mechanism of finding ways to cause pain that left only the most temporary visible evidence, if any, which is why I had very few visible scars. She didn’t know the many hours that I’ve spent sitting on my hands, or rolling myself tightly into a blanket, as I desperately fought the urge to harm myself. She didn’t know the times that I had used medical tape as make-shift “stitches”, praying that the blood would stop soon, so I didn’t end up in the hospital, again. At her words, I felt more alone than ever, feeling that even among others with similar struggles I was misunderstood, mislabeled, and alone.

How did you overcome this experience?

I realized that not everyone is comfortable with openly talking about mental illness, even those who also struggle with it, so some people can’t handle how “real” I truly am. I realized that I am *not* fake, but I am complicated and can be easily misunderstood by those who only glimpse the tip of my very deep iceberg. I learned to respect her triggers, and keep certain aspects of my journey to myself, and even told her to please just kindly let me know when I start to make her or others uncomfortable with my conversation.

Help others by sharing a brief, positive message.

No matter the diagnosis, there is no One Size Fits All in mental illness. Don’t let someone else’s experience invalidate your own, or yours, theirs. Accept each other’s pain and journey for what it is: unique and personal. If you don’t understand, ask and learn.

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