Have you ever noticed that only people with physical illnesses are seen as survivors?
Have you ever noticed that if you survive a serious operation which could potentially end your life you are considered a survivor or if you are in a near fatal accident and live to tell the tale you are a survivor or if you have been diagnosed with a life threatening illness and defy all the odds and survive you are view by society as a survivor?
Being viewed as a survivor symbolizes strength, courage, bravery and determination. Surviving something as life threatening as cancer or a rare heart condition gives you the title of a survivor, a courageous and brave warrior that never gave up fighting. It allows the people around you to become inspired, honor you and see you as a role model, all because society has given you the title of a survivor. It takes some strength to defy all the odds and become a survivor of a serious illness such as cancer, believe me I know the strength which it takes to battle cancer from watching my mum fight for her life to become a survivor if even for a short period but also to spend more time with the ones whom she loved most. I watched my dad as he endured serious blood clots in his lungs leaving him gasping for air yet determined to fight to survive to spend more time with the ones he loves and gain the title of survivor by society.
People who have experienced serious illnesses and come out fighting are called survivors, praised for their courage, bravery and determination. These people are seen as role models and people to look up to. These people are those who experience serious physical illnesses but what about those who fight against a mental illness to ensure that they are not captured by their own mind, the people who battle their own perception in order to prevent themselves from taking their own lives and the people who endure endless months or even years of treatment just like those who experience a physical illness.
The people who fight against their minds in order to live are not seen as survivors by society, they are seen as crazy, drama queens or even as people looking for some attention. They are shunned out of some communities and often viewed as outcasts, people not good enough to partake within society and people who deserve to be locked away to prevent danger to those around them.
Do people who suffer from a mental illness not deserve the same praise someone gets for fighting a physical illness?
Should they not be seen as an inspiration?
Should they not be considered role models?
Why is it that the courage and strength which it takes to come through a physical illness or indeed face a physical illness head on and fight until your body can no longer fight is acknowledged yet the strength and courage it takes to fight against a mental illness is overlooked?
I have spent three years receiving outpatient psychotherapy for my depression, OCD and anxiety with the child and adolescent mental health services, I have received months of Cognitive behavior therapy to help me cope with the thoughts and urges to self-harm, I have been on medication to help me get through each day for almost three and a half years and I have spent time in hospital in order to keep myself safe, work towards recovery and fight my mental illness and whats more is I am still going through treatment. What do I get for doing that? I get stigmatized, I get looked down on, I get called crazy, physco, weird, freak, disturbed and loony, I get judged, I get bullied, I get criticized and I get view as different from others. Why should I be treated so negatively for fighting back against an illness, an illness which can be as severe as a physical illness, an illness which can leave marks just like a physical illness and an illness that can result in death just like a physical illness if not treated correctly or caught in time?
I consider myself a survivor, I consider myself strong and brave for reaching out for help and most importantly I consider myself as a fighter who despite wanting and trying to end my life never gave up. I have been ridiculed, judged, bullied and looked down on because of my mental illness yet I keep going, I keep fighting and no matter how much I fight I am always put down by people around me. But you know what? I always get back up. You know why? Because I am a survivor.
While you may be thinking she is just looking for sympathy or looking for attention I can assure you I am not. You may think she is putting people down who fight against a physical illness but again I can assure you that I am not. What I am doing with this post is showing you that while it may not be obvious someone is fighting against an illness they deserve as much respect, praise, rights and support as someone who is fighting against an illness, which may be obvious. Don’t get me wrong I believe that people, young and old who fight against a physical illness are amongst the bravest and most courageous people in this world I too believe that people, young and old who fight against a mental illness are amongst the bravest and most courageous people in this world! An illness is an illness, it can be physical or mental but both deserve the same time and respect!
So the next time you look down on someone fighting a mental illness or ridicule a person for seeking support ask yourself this one question:
Would I be brave enough to fight like them?