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Living with It: Mental Illness and Ending the Stigma

When you hear the term “mental illness” there’s immediately a negative stigma that comes unfairly attached. Mental illness simply is that, an illness in your brain. Just like arthritis, or kidney disease it needs to be treated. In this day and age it’s still taboo to be open and honest about having a mental illness. Those of us who live with our various illnesses are still people. We laugh, love, cry, and feel just like anyone who has a neurotypical brain. We just have to adjust how we deal with the world around us in order to best manage our lives and live them to the best of our abilities. We rely on doctors and a variety of medications to help us just like anyone with a chronic physical ailment. And although we are still human, flawed and trying to figure out what life looks like, we’re treated like lepers in may social situations.

Find to Get the Help We Need

Finding proper health insurance is made more difficult because of our ailments, making it harder to get the help we need. Mental health needs to come out of the taboo closet that our society has forced it into so that the plethora of mental health issues that many people face in a day can be treated with the same casual attitude that going in for the flu or a broken bone is. You would be surprised how many people you know and love are affected by some sort of mental illness. We need to treat each other with kindness and respect so that our friends and loved ones can have the support they need to find help and are able to navigate the waters of their illnesses.

My Day to Day

I live with bipolar. My day to day starts and ends with many different kinds of medications to help me have as normal of a day as possible. And although they do help greatly, there are still days where the control I exercise over my mind and my moods falls apart and I can spiral either up or downwards. My lows feel like drowning on dry land. Like falling down a deep and dark well that you think you’ll never escape from. Sometimes the suicidal ideations are echoing in your brain in a constant loop, even if deep down inside you don’t want to die. At those times I’m very lucky to have a village of people supporting me and wanting nothing but for me to feel better. My highs, on the other hand can go from “I can run a marathon forever” to “lets spend thousands of dollars on all of the things”. Manic episodes can also bring out the destructive side as well. The side that wants you to party like a crazed rockstar while putting yourself in any kind of dangerous situation you can think of. And, like any teenager you’ve ever known, you think you’re invincible, untouchable, like anything and everything is going your way. As much fun as the endless amounts of energy I get from a manic episode is, the rest is downright scary. It’s those times I make sure to tell people I’m close to what’s going on so that I know that someone is watching and helping me stay safe.


I guess what I’m trying to say is having the love and support of loved ones is extremely important, if not the key to helping those with a mental illness learn to live and work through their illnesses. Someone with the proper support is more likely to make the healthy decisions they need to make in order to seek proper help and treatment. So love your sisters and brothers. Show them that not only do they got this, but you have their back. Be forgiving when we have a setback (because there will be setbacks), and remember that if you feel overwhelmed by it all, that your loved ones with mental health issues are even more overwhelmed every moment of everyday. Our brains are broken, but beautiful.


Whitney Ulmen

~ Whitney was born and raised in Idaho. She’s a painter, poet, and avid theater participant. In the years to come she hopes to see mental health treated with as much care and importance as any physical illness. Love yourself, put your health first and the rest will fall into place. Like Rue Paul says, “If you can’t love yourself how the hell are you gonna love anyone else?”





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