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 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 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 Seven: My Experience with Anxiety, Depression, Perseverance, and Hope

“I wish my symptoms were different. They’re pretty much out of my control now. The older I get, the less I can take, you know? I’m 38 now, so I can’t really take as much as I used to be able to take… Where I’m at now, it’s just humiliation… just too much misery. Every day I’m disabled… it adds up.”

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Running in the Wrong Direction

Interview Five: Running in the Wrong Direction

“One memory that stands out… This just sounds so ridiculous now, but it makes so much sense! I was at a gas station in the car with my brother, and my mom was pumping gas. And I was afraid that I inhaled too many fumes, and I was going to die. Like, a fourth grader, imagine! Saying this stuff! I remember staying at home that night… that entire night freaking out, not leaving my dad’s side… so afraid I would die.”

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Business as Usual (While Drowning Inside)

Interview Three: Business as Usual (While Drowning Inside)

“I thought I was having a heart attack. The doctors told me there was nothing wrong, but I was so anxious that no rational thought made sense. I had them do more tests. They told me, ‘Cardiac arrest is rare in a 20-year-old. You’re fine.’ None of them ever mentioned stress or anxiety as a possibility for how I was feeling.”

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