Jermaine, August 27, 2019

 Through support and understanding, the negative stigma of being “mentally ill” will not always be apparent

I’m an army veteran who has been diagnosed with anxiety and depression. For a few years now, I have been struggling to cope with my mental health problems. I come from an army infantry background and I completed a full operational tour of Afghanistan in 2014. However unbeknown to me I was battling mental health issues since I was a child. 

These are words that come to mind: rejection, abandonment, sorrow, suffering and no knowledge. Some would say I was destined to wear a jewelled crown upon a troubled brow.

Since I was a child the decisions of others caused me to be exposed to traumatic events throughout my life. I silently carried these feelings into puberty and adulthood. I began experimenting with recreational drugs from the age of 17 until very recently; at the time of the writing of this blog I’m still abstinent.

A lot of people who surrounded me believed I just had an insatiable drug addiction, I also believed this. Until I was admitted to a psychiatric hospital for the second time. It seemed that I had an invisible enemy, that had a hold over me and blocked me all my latent potential of living a normal life. I went through intense psychological therapy, but for some time I still felt very numb inside and didn’t know what to do.

The people I thought would have supported me through this hardship were not there to help me.

People from the old life still don’t truly understand what mental health is. The usual questions I was asked were, “Are you in a straitjacket?”, “Do you have multiple personalities?” and “Will you ever go back to normal?”. I feel the only way someone with mental health problems can feel normal is by accepting and understanding what is wrong in the first place. 

You might have obstacles, however, the human mind is very powerful. It can be used to build, manage, achieve and a host of other wonderful things. Do not let your mental health define who you are. You cannot change the past, but you can learn from it.

Stand and be accounted for and show how great you truly are. Through support and understanding, the negative stigma of being “mentally ill” will not always be apparent, such as with racism, sexism and all other forms of hate.

Only you can lead the way for others to follow you on your amazing journey.

Don’t let the invisible enemy inside you dictate that you must live by rules determined by your condition. Dictate your own life and live how you want to live.

Share your story

Too many people are made to feel ashamed. By sharing your story, you can help spread knowledge and perspective about mental illness that could change the way people think about it.