I admit that to a lot of people, mental illness is scary. Hey, I have found it to be myself. Heck, the word “schizophrenia” sound scary in of itself. Certainly it doesn’t even sound pleasant.
One of my biggest fears for ten years of my life was that I would suffer a relapse of my symptoms. My initial fall was awful. It was a terrible experience that words cannot justify. I lost friends, I thought my life was over. It took me years to recover. Once I clawed myself back to reality, I was afraid I might “leave” it again, lose my friends again, and never be able to find my way back again.
Then my relapse happened. In some ways it wasn’t avoidable. In others it was. Really what should of happened doesn’t matter though. It happened. The thing I didn’t realize while I feared it for so long, was that I was adding to my coping mechanisms and learning a lot about myself and how to deal with such a tragedy. In short, while it was something I wouldn’t wish on anyone and I certainly don’t wish to mitigate my struggles with it and its fallout in any way, I know now that I can deal with it, maybe not 100% every day, but I know it can get better.
In short, I learned to not be afraid of it. Because, as terrible as it was, as hurtful as it was I had learned ways to cope and ways to succeed in spite of it.
So my advice to anyone who fears mental illness is this. Yes, there is much to be scared of. There is much hardship, much pain, much sorrow. The thing though is that while fear is a natural reaction and perfectly understandable, you can move past it. You can move forward in spite of it.
It is an unknown and difficult to understand if you haven’t been through it. Still, we can move past fear and on to understanding.
That’s my dream.