Interview Eighteen: I’m Strong, Because I Deal With It

“I may feel like a terrible person, but I realize now that I’m strong. I’m still alive. I could have ended it. I’m here, because my life did get better. I’ve lived in Pittsburgh almost 10 years, I have a support network, I have amazing friends… and I would have never had them, and they would have never had me, if I had ended my life. You get better. It’s always a journey. It’s always a struggle… but I like my life. And I’m happy I made that journey. I’m strong, because I deal with it.”

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Interview Seventeen: Delayed Realization

Interview Seventeen: Delayed Realization

“But, if there is one thing I’ve learned from this process, it’s that there are people out there who care. Every single person who called campus police on me genuinely cared. Every single person who I worked with in treatment cared. Every single person who came to visit me after I lost my enrollment, they especially cared. To some degree, I regret having not shown enough gratitude to every individual who has helped me along the way. I only hope that this piece may show them that I say thank you.”

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Interview Sixteen: There’s Beauty in the Breakdown

“I got so, so good at pretending. I remember my psychiatrist saying to me, ‘You say this Prozac isn’t working, but I can’t see how you can still be depressed when you’re just sitting there smiling at me.’ I couldn’t believe she said that to me. It’s like, ‘Yes, because that’s what I chose to let you see. What you think about me, is what I’m allowing you to think about me. You don’t know me at all.'”

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Interview Fifteen: Empty Nest Teacher

“…it’s fascinating to me that some people can talk about depression without having much stigma… Big, famous celebrities, actors and actresses, creative people and artists, writers… this is old hat. But what about professions that are academic, lawyers or business people… I think the stigma is different. And I don’t think there’s a lot of discussion in the academic world…”

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Interview Fourteen: Unlearning Shame and Self-Blame

“Having a community of people who experience mental illness is so important for those who experience it. Because without it, a lot of times I felt like I was going through something that was completely abnormal. Why was I thinking this way? Why was I feeling this way? Why couldn’t I just shape up and go back to being a normal person? It’s like, well… it’s a little more complicated than that.”

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Interview Thirteen: My Mental Health is Black

“We all, society, if we come together, if we show more love, if we experience more joy… see people as people and not diagnoses, not stigmas, not the color of our skin… we really could start to shift the trajectory of where we’re at.”

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Interview Twelve: My Illness is My Responsibility

“I don’t want to be thought of as a victim, as this sufferer. I want to be thought of someone with agency. Should I define myself only in reference to my struggles? What does that signal to other people? I’m trying to grow and become stable enough to have functional relationships, so is talking about my mental illness signaling to others that I am dysfunctional, impacting my ability to have those relationships?”

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Interview Eleven: Safe Town, Unsafe Mind

Interview Eleven: Safe Town, Unsafe Mind

“When I’m in a manic state, it’s not really me. It’s like my brain is on Mars, and my body is having a parade to celebrate its absence. The things that you are interested in will be the things that inform your episodes… like, I’m interested in Greek philosophy, which is why I was running around like a cynic, like a dog, looking for Diogenes. That’s not something that I would do, but it’s like a character based on me. A cartoon version of myself. It’s like the source material for a play about my life.”

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Interview Ten: Battling With My Mind

Interview Ten: Battling With My Mind

“I would constantly think, ‘This is the worst thing that could happen to me. Nothing will get better.’ I still feel that same pressure… constantly… claustrophobic… or suffocated. You cannot move… like you’re in a casket. You cannot breathe. Oh… It’s always that same feeling.”

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Interview Nine: Making It Through Traffic

“The appearance of a person with depression is totally subjective… different than what the reality in their mind is. It doesn’t matter that you had a great GPA, that you got a 3.6, that you got A’s in all your important classes… you just aren’t good enough. You are worth nothing and your friends are still your friends only because they don’t know how worthless you are.”

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