What if your reality is not reality? What is truly real and what isn't?
What if the fleeting spirits that I spot every day, those sometimes friendly, sometimes taunting souls, that became such a commodity to my life, the ones that are the sole solace to the lonely existence of mine, were never actually there?
What if that poor child crying heartrendingly in the back of the room, the death threats, the tormented screams, the playful laughter aren't discerned by anyone but you?
What if the various but impactful conversations I just had with my buddies never happened?
What if they never existed? And i'm truly alone?
What if the beloved friend I was just holding hands with, a kind hand that was so warm, so soothing, so solid, so here is nothing but a convoluted illusion?
What if the thoughts alternatively whispering to me then screaming at me that my family is in danger, that they're being followed, that everyone is out to get them, that they're going to die very soon are false?
What if all of my fears and emotions are unfounded, dismissed as crazy talk?
What if everyone told you that everything you see, hear, touch, think, feel is just a hallucination?
Well, i was told that.
Am i truly insane? Who knows? Who can really tell, properly determine what is authentic madness?
Hello, how are you? Hopefully, you are healthy and happy.
Here's a little backstory.
In 2013, I was diagnosed with depression and schizophrenia. I've always heard voices and saw things but just thought they were either actual people or spirits. Some of them have different personalities, mannerisms, and distinct voices.
Sometimes, they threaten. Sometimes they encourage. Sometimes, they yell. Sometimes, they whisper.
Ah, sometimes, they act all nice and stuff for a period of time. That's why when I was younger I just thought they were guardian spirits or something.
In high school, a teacher noticed me silently crying in class, which led to her sending me to the school counselor and me eventually being diagnosed by a psychiatrist. And apparently I'm somewhere on the autism spectrum. Yes, I'm a mess...
What is schizophrenia? Basically, schizophrenia is a mental disorder that messes with my thinking and how I perceive things. I hear, see, feel things that may or may not be there. Many times, I don't know what is real and what is not. Therefore, I have to reality check with the people I trust to confirm whether something is actually there. However, even then, I don't know. Paranoia and distrust are also common symptoms of schizophrenia. I also think differently when I'm on meds and when I'm not. The exact cause of schizophrenia isn't known, but a combination of genetics, environment, and altered brain chemistry and structure may play a role (Mayo).
What's depression, you may ask. Well, I get sad for no reason. It's so incredibly difficult to get up in the morning when all I want to do is sleep and will the world away. It's so ineffably hard when all I hear and feel is that I'm worth nothing, that I'm useless, unwanted, unneeded. Some days, some weeks, no matter how hard I try, I can't feel anything. I don't want to do anything. I don't feel like eating. I don't want to shower. I don't want to go out. I don't want to even move. I don't want to do anything at all. For no freaking reason. I'm either just sad or I can't feel a thing. It's just a big, gaping void of nothing. I don't care if I smell. I don't care if I look scary. I don't care about anything. You can't battle nothing.
How do you fight nothing?
To me, that's what depression feels like.
I do not understand why people say to not think about it and you won't be sad anymore. In a way, I know that some people think everyone ticks like them. I'm trying to understand, but I'm not sure if they either do not get that one can get depressed for no apparent reason—you can be wealthy behind belief, you have so many meaningful and fulfilling friendships yet you can still feel worthless, inadequate—or that they think I'm talking about sadness and not depression.
More people need to be aware of mental illness. Most people I meet do not know that I'm schizophrenic. Apparently, I do not "act" schizophrenic. The majority of the world act like anyone with a mental illness is gonna snap and go on a homicidal rampage. Aha, the stigma. Media does not help at all. You might hear about mentally unstable people attacking people on the news. I really don't think they're going to write about the everyday life of anyone... They only write about you when something big happens. Otherwise, it's not juicy enough. Not enough drama.
Not all mentally ill people are dangerous. Just as all people who don't have a mental illness are safe to be around. Heck, statistics that BBC gathered prove that there are more crimes done on the mentally ill than those committed by them. I worry that it's because some people get so scared of what they do not know and somehow end up attacking them because of a series of misunderstandings. People fear the unknown, and fear does scary things to people.
"1% of victims of violent crime believed that the incident occurred because the offender had a mental illness" (Hammond).
"3 to 5 percent of all violence, including but not limited to firearm violence, is attributable to serious mental illness" (Gun Violence and Mental Illness).
I do not disclose my diagnosis unless I am comfortable with them and want to test if they will be a friend who stick by me. Now, I'm a bit more open about it since I want to reduce stigma. What exactly is stigma? It's negativity toward a certain topic. For example, a topic such as mental illness, homosexuality, or anything really.
If there wasn't so much stigma around mental illness, people wouldn't need to hide it until they can't anymore.
Until they explode and unfortunate things happen.
We can save lives, people.
We can actually save lives.
Mental illness is a real thing. It is not something you can just will away. It is not something you can push to the back of your mind and it will just fade with time. It needs to managed so that the person can function and live a fulfilling life just like anyone else. Don't diminish what a person is going through by telling them that they're crazy, that they're just overthinking, that they are just stressed. With effective management, others might not even realize that you even have a mental illness. However, having a mental illness, going to therapy doesn't need to be a bad thing. NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, which is America's largest mental health organization, states that "approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S.—43.8 million, or 18.5%—experiences mental illness in a given year (NAMI)."
But you don't see mass shootings every day.
We're not all murderers.
I'm not gonna to stab the stuffing out of you just 'cause you pissed me off. Although, who hasn't wanted to sucker punch a person who pissed them off? You had thought about it, but you didn't follow through with it. Hopefully.
I've been going to Pacific Clinics, a mental health clinic, for three years now. I've met with all kinds of people and most of them have never shown me any aggression. They smile and talk just like anyone else.
They are the reason I want to reduce stigma. I want to make things easier for them.
You can become more aware by going to mental health clinics and events, or just simply forming friendships with people who have actually experienced mental illness instead of those who plead insanity just so they don't have to go to death row. If you're more aware of what mental illness really is, then it's easier to eliminate any stigma you may have. You can save lives or at least help someone. If you help someone, one day, someone will help you back.
Imagine we all can do this.
Imagine a world free of discrimination, a place where you don't have to fear for your life, your safety, just because you're different.
A haven that is safe and comfortable for anyone.
A place of warmth and friendship.
A place of healing, of affection.
So let's bring awareness. Let's reduce stigma.
The world I dream of is impossible, but that won't stop me from dreaming.
someone showed interest so i decided to revise the first chapter.
What do you think about mental illness? Stigma? Is there anything you wanna know? Anything you can relate to? Anything you want to be elaborated? Although, I'm not too certain if anyone wants to know about my hallucinations.