I am very lucky that, from a young age, I knew who I was. I have always been very much myself. I believe there are two roles in my life that shaped me into the girl I became: Being the oldest girl in my family and being a competitive dancer starting at the age of 5. I learned to be opinionated, strong, and self aware. Those same characteristics are also what led me to start this blog so that I could help those around me.
Many people didn’t think “Unlabeled” was a good idea. Those who loved me didn’t want the negative side of being vulnerable online to affect me while I was healing. Others were just embarrassed. My response was always the same—the whole point of what I am trying to do is to teach those exact people just what mental health really is. To end the stigma that makes people insult someone with a mental illness, or to think having a mental illness is embarrassing. I like to live in my little fake internet world, where mental health is normalized and the mentally ill aren’t shamed. But sadly, our real world hasn’t opened their arms to us yet. And at age 16, you think you are unstoppable. Now at 21, I can firmly say that my young teenage self had no idea how hateful this world is.
This year has been a very hard one. I started out 2022 anorexic, bipolar, and on lithium…while also suffering from an addiction to Klonopin that I didn’t even know I had. This year has been the worst I have struggled since high school. This makes sense, seeing as my doctor said that Klonopin began damaging and stunting my brain the day I started taking it. It’s safe to say that I am a completely different person today than I was at the beginning of this year.
The old me was strong enough to stay true to who I am, no matter what people wanted to say about me. Nowadays, I struggle to find that part of who I was. I never thought the day that I would agree with people doubting me would come, but it has. More and more, the regret of making “Unlabeled” comes into my head. But not for the reason they said it would.
You see, I cannot tell you what it feels like to be seen as a non-mentally ill person now. Turns out the world doesn’t believe vulnerability is a strength, like I have always believed. The truth is that many people have used my vulnerability against me. And it isn’t the people who don’t understand mental health. It’s people who have had conversations with me, saying they understand what I am going through. These same people then turn around and judge me for the exact struggles they claimed to understand.
The truth is that I am sick of being around people all together. When you have spent all of your high school and college years fighting the battle between losing your life to your own brain, and on top of it all trying to prove you are worthy of simply being understood, you would be sick of humanity too.
The only real way I have been getting through is by protecting my own heart. If I listen to people’s opinions, there is always a way to be offended and end up doubting myself. So I am learning to not care. I’m learning I don’t need to pour my heart out to people who will only see that as ammunition to be judgmental. And when they judge me anyway, I will simply be happy that I am nothing like them. I’m learning to not be the “bigger person” but the kinder one. I will not judge back, give them the same energy, or quiet who I truly am in order to be understood. Because I understand myself. It is not my problem that people are harsh and ignorant in a world built on hatred. So I will no longer be acting like it is.
One of the hardest things in life that I have come to terms with is that people will not treat you the way you treat them. No matter how much love you give someone, there are people in this world who will take that love and only give hatred back. That does not mean that your love was wasted. It does not mean you shouldn’t give your love to anyone anymore. Believe me, I know it is not easy to stay soft despite this life being hard. As much as you can, be unbothered by those who steal your love. I firmly believe you will receive it all back in time.
As cheesy as it sounds, the more you know yourself, the more power you hold within your own life. And with every step of becoming the person you wish to be, I will be fighting right behind you to take control of my life, too. We will be unbothered soon enough and until then, fake it till you make it. Your life and happiness is worth the fight. And the next time you are being judged for an illness completely out of your control, ask them if they would blame a cancer patient for having cancer. The way people don’t know how to answer will at least make you laugh.