The Moment I Realized Mental Illness Is Real

We were sitting in our room, and she lifted up her sleeve slowly.  “This is why I am here” she said.  Carved with a butchers knife into her arm and across her body, were the words, Help Me.  She was 13.

2 days prior…

It was the tenth day at the mental health facility, and I sat at the table, while 5 doctors stared at me.

Doc:  “Hannah, it is crucial for you to understand, we are not releasing you, until you understand that you have bipolar II disorder.”

Me:  “I do understand doc, I just want to go home”

Doc:No Hannah you dont understand, you will go home, the first few days will be fine, shit maybe even a couple months, you will go back to pretending nothing happened, and then your going to bottom out, and this time you may not be so lucky.”  

Me:  “Lucky?”  I stormed out of the room to group therapy.

There she was, my new roommate, a young African American girl.   I could not believe how young she was.  “Hey I am Hannah, your roommate, if I catch you creeping on me or telling me the CIA is watching me like my past roommate, we are going to have a problem, understood?”  She fell into my arms crying.  “Oh shit Hannah, what the fuck is wrong with you,” I thought to myself.  

We sat, outside during recreational time, she told me her whole story.  About her broken home, her mother’s disregard for her schizophrenia, and how she has spent most of her life in a mental hospital.  “Jesus, this must be like the Ritz Carlton to you,”she laughed.  The following days, we talked about boys, her hope to one go to prom, and all things a young teenage girl likes to talk about.  At night, she would wait for her mother’s phone call that never came.

Then one morning, she asked me why I was still there.  “Oh damn, well I guess I can’t admit to myself that I am sick.  I am diagnosed bipolar II and honestly I can’t believe it. I keep questioning myself, like “Are you selfish? Are you spoiled?  Is this just a rough time?”  She looked away, and told me she wanted to show me something.  We walked to the room, and that is the moment she showed me her scars.  She had carved the words I had been screaming inside for so long.  “Help me!”  I began to cry so hard, I thought my eyes would fall out…she grabbed my hand.

The next day, I went into the Doctors office, and fell to the floor, “I know I am sick, I get it, I fucking get it.  I’ll do anything to get better.”  My doctor smiled, “Now the healing begins Hannah…”  I was released five days later.

The stigma in society has caused so many people to hide their diagnosis.  We constantly question ourselves, believing this is something that will go away, thinking that mental illness makes us bad people, petrified what people will say.  It is as real as any disease, and until we can come together as a society, and stop the stigma that makes it so hard for individuals who need help, this will only get worse.  The day I became a believer, was the day my life changed.  I had many angels at the facility and you will get to know through the continuation of my blog.

I am forever grateful to her, the girl who sacrificed her scars to help heal mine.  


3 thoughts on “The Moment I Realized Mental Illness Is Real

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