An Open Letter to Anyone Battling Mental Illness


To anyone battling a mental illness,

You are not abnormal. You are not weird. You are an amazing human being who deserves everything that this life has to offer just as much as the next person. You are not damaged. You are not flawed or imperfect. You are whole. I am not drawn away from you, or your mental illness.. I am actually intrigued. By your strength and willpower. This world is a terrifying place and somehow you still find it in you to stay safe, stay sane and enjoy it.

I feel for you. I feel for the stigma surrounding mental illness that you have had to deal with all this time. But it's time for all of this to change. Stigma is not your problem, it's theirs. Don't listen to the hurtful and unsupportive comments that individuals continue to throw your way. It only holds you back. Take a deep breathe. Leave it in the past.

Someone will always have a story they will try to inspire you, or motivate you with. Don't compare their story to yours. Everyone's journey with mental health is different. They'll tell you to exercise, to be more positive, to stop thinking about it... block it all out. Your journey is yours. What helps me battle my mental illness may not always help you. Figure out what self-care routines are meant for you, use them.

I hear people saying that you can't medicate yourself for mental illness. You're sick if you do. To those people I wanna say, educate yourself. Mental health is a chronic illness and believe it or not, it requires treatment. Don't be ashamed or humiliated for taking medicine. The risk surrounding mental illness is a far larger one than the one that comes with medicating yourself for it.

Today, I ask you to talk about your journey. The world, now more than ever, it needs more people who will share their story. For years you have been told to 'hold back' or you have been shut down when trying to talk about your journey -- but this is all changing. You don't have to be scared to talk about it anymore. We live in a generation that wants to end the stigma surrounding mental health. If you can help just one person by letting them in on your story, you've done more than enough.

You are strong. You are a dreamer. I've discovered that the same minds that comes up with sad, scary, dark thoughts are the ones that think of the most artistic, creative ideas. Use the pain and energy you have gained from your mental illness and turn it into something beautiful. Make art. Make music. Build a business. Don't destruct.

Social media is a huge part of my life. It's a huge part of many peoples' lives. I just want you to know that the media has no clue who you are. It's easier for them to make you fear yourself than love yourself. Don't give in to it.

Learn to love every part of you. If you have days that are harder than others choose to focus on something you love about yourself. Be absolutely ridiculous if it makes you laugh. And be grateful. When you're having a hard day, think of everything you have to be grateful for. Reflect on your journey so far. Not every day is going to be easy but looking back at how far you've come so far goes a long way.

Remember, you are never alone. I have mental illness, too. I am the same as you.

With love,
Deena Alawaid

January 25 is #BellLetsTalk day. Every time you talk,
text and join in on social media (using #BellLetsTalk),
Bell will donate 5¢ more to mental health initiatives.

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