Stigma Fighters Teen

A place where voices are heard

Mental Health and Perception: Marisa’s Story

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There are numerous diseases of the brain that society has accepted to be actual illnesses. A lot of people don’t understand that mental illnesses are just as important as physical illnesses and deserve to be treated with just as much attention. I was one of these people. Until I was diagnosed.

I never realized the amount of ignorance and implicit bias that we as a society have towards mental health. We underestimate the importance of maintaining stable and healthy relationships with partners, friends, and peers. We unknowingly hold unrealistic standards for others, and try to label perseverance and effort when these things are a matter of perception.

Don’t get me wrong, It isn’t unhealthy or wrong to want things, or even to expect things until the things that we want or expect become excessive or unrealistic, for example; setting goals that are far out of reach, but to whom? Your perspective of ‘out of reach’ is your perspective. This is something we must learn. Perspective is everything. Especially when it comes to mental health.

The most common and implicit expectations that we hold in people usually go unnoticed and are unrecognizable to us. I have been interested in psychology ever since I figured out how thoughts lead to feelings which leads to actions, and that mental illnesses were not “all in my head” that they were real and chemical. Something I learned from my current psychologist.

I have been studying psychology and different disorders for months. I can’t help but be interested in something that really concerns me. I have also been observing and studying the #MHChat on twitter, and recently participated in the conversation, when discussing how positive thinking is essential to recovery but cannot simply cure a mental illness.

I was also invited to represent my school in the National Student Leadership Conference to study psychology and neuroscience, however because of financial issues, I will not able to attend.

Because I have chosen to work towards this particular career path, sometimes I can’t help but feel it has more cons than pros. For example, there is so much scattered research and there is not one definite answer to any question. Most questions regarding mental health have yet to be answered because we “don’t know”, also there is such a stigma around mental illnesses, so we are expected to suffer in silence or not suffer at all.

It’s quite difficult to suffer in silence, to pretend your problems aren’t real in public but to suffer so much at home. I’m the introverted yet overly friendly type. Most of the time I keep to myself, but I have a welcoming and positive aura, which attracts people to me, so I’ve heard. I’m a good friend and the kind that would drop anything to be there for someone but I’ve never been part of a particular friend group, I’m more of an outsider and the one that’s friends with the friend groups but not in them. It’s quite difficult for me to pretend my problems don’t exist to socialize and be friendly. No one at school knows that I started skipping meals in first grade, or that I spent 3 summers in a row imprisoned in my own depression, crying myself to sleep, that I quit cheerleading-something I’ve loved since I was a little girl, because of my anxiety. The only people who really know anything are the people who have been subjected to my horrible irritability and “moodiness” who assume that I’m ‘bipolar’ and are partially right.

Feeling misunderstood and unappreciated is not uncommon for teens, but for me, It’s something that I’ve yet to get over and to move forward from. It’s a weakness of mine and is what knocks me down when I think I’m getting better. It’s something that people who have gotten close to me have thrown in my face to knock me down during disagreements. My current psychologist is teaching me how to not let it control me, but not to excuse the people who make me feel like this and quite honestly its been a hard concept for me to grasp.

The stigma around mental health has haunted me. The implicit and insensitive comments that I hear everyday are enough to trigger my inner demons. Hearing “she’s looks anorexic”, “I’m gonna kill myself” “she’s so bipolar” and the responses to questions about mental illnesses in Health class make me so upset, that our world is such an ignorant one.. I’ll stop at nothing to make sure that one day, I will be able to say “I go to therapy.” Without people thinking that I’m crazy. That I can one day eat three healthy meals a day and feel comfortable doing so. That I can one day say “I have a mental illness, but it doesn’t define me.” And I hope the people who are also suffering can find comfort and support.

Living with a mental illness has been the most difficult obstacle for me to overcome and quite honestly I don’t know where I’m going to go from here. But I know that writing about it will be good for me. Talking about it helps and reading from another perspective does benefit other people in a positive way. I’m hoping that someone will be reading this and will want to know more about me or my story. This will not be the last article I write for Stigma Fighters teen. Please leave a comment if you have any questions or requests for me to write about


One thought on “Mental Health and Perception: Marisa’s Story

  1. Marisa,
    I hope you keep writing. You write beautifully and your words are touching. Thanks for being open and honest. It helps to understand. Holly


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