“You’re not having those symptoms are you?”
Uhhhhhhh, yeah. I’m having almost every symptom to some degree. How else would I have gotten diagnosed?
I know what people are insinuating when they ask this.
Scary Symptoms™ include but are not limited to:
- constant suicidal ideation (active or passive)
- self-harm – cuts, scratches, putting cigarettes out on skin, etc. (due to manic blood lust, agitated distraction, depressive release, or just something to keep things interesting at times)
- binge drinking, drugging, sex
- psychosis – delusions and hallucinations, typically, but there is so much more
- reckless and dangerous impulsivity
- desire to be manipulative
- whatever else isn’t a Relatable Symptom™ (like existential crises, fear of rejection and abandonment, irrational anxiety and phobias, over-analysis, or whatever)
That’s not to diminish the relatable symptoms or their severity when people with or without mental illnesses experience them. It’s just that I hear “oh that happens to me too” a lot from people without mental illnesses, and I’m just like “yah, you don’t know that half of it.” Like, you literally don’t know the half of it, and if I told you the other half of it, you’d think I need to be committed and you’d probably act repulsed. How do you think that makes me feel in regards to the stigma?
I do not want to be judged for having Scary Symptoms™. No one does because look at the diagnostic criteria. We wouldn’t get diagnosed if we didn’t meet it. Again, it’s all part of the illness. It doesn’t make us scary or in immediate danger.
Even as I type this, I’m worried it will freak people out, but that’s not the point. I have a mental illness, and I accept all parts of it, scary or not. I’m not romanticizing it. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy, but attempts to remove the stigma from the non-scary aspects of mental illness isn’t cutting it any more. The stigma persists in the dark corners of mental illness taboos.
I know the people close to me don’t like to think of me as “hypersexual” or “morbid,” but that’s not me. It’s just one of many Scary Symptoms™.
No one with a mental illness should have the added pressure of being worried about judgement or stigma. Does that mean I think everyone should parade around, advertising his or her symptoms to the world? No. But if I feel comfortable enough with you to share the reality of my mental illness after you explicitly ask, be prepared for the truth and know that when you act shocked or repulsed, it’s honestly just perpetuating the stigma in my mind and everywhere else.
My Scary Symptoms™ are something I have. They are NOT who I am. The same goes for my mental illness more generally.