Speak loud

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Every morning when I get up, I go to the bathroom. I eat breakfast. I brush my teeth. And then I pour a glass of water, find my pillbox and take a pill containing 100mg of sertraline, better known by its trade name: Zoloft.

I started taking Zoloft right before second-year to deal with severe anxiety, depression and symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder. My history with mental illness is long and genetic. I started having panic attacks in high school and spent a year fearing that either I wasn’t real or the entire world around me wasn’t.

I was aware of how completely insane it was. I believed it anyway.

In first-year, I became depressed, and rarely left my house that summer. It took me until the end of the summer to finally see my psychiatrist, who’d once told me she wouldn’t prescribe anyone medication unless she truly felt they needed it.

I told her I wanted to be on medication. She agreed.

I don’t go out of my way to mention it, but my mental illness is a part of me. I never thought anyone really thought anything of that until one of my friends confessed their own struggles with depression to me. They said they’d heard me casually mention it once, months ago, and known then that I would understand.

My feelings were mixed: I was sad to learn that my friend suffered from depression, too. But I also realized then how important it is that, as someone suffering from mental illness, I talk about it.

People without a mental illness have a place within the mental health conversation. But ultimately, the words of allies are hollow unless they follow the voices of people who actually suffer from mental illness.

There are a number of reasons people with mental illnesses don’t talk about their illness. One is that they don’t think mental illness is as valid a health problem as physical ailments. Another is that people seem to think mental illness is temporary.

For many, though, mental illness is a lifelong struggle. Maybe my brain wasn’t wired like this before high school. Maybe it was. But I’ll struggle with anxiety, depression and OCD for the rest of my life — and so will many others with a mental illness.

That is why I’m honest about what I go through. Everyone with a mental illness right now is potentially in it for the rest of their lives, and when you live this way, you need to know you’re not alone.

We can’t combat stigma unless we speak with honesty. Until stigma is no longer a concern, I’ll keep being honest, so that anyone who hears me knows they’re not alone.

Chloe is the Journal’s News Editor. She’s a fifth-year history major and Jewish studies minor.

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