#4: Listen to their story if they need to tell you.

Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

Words by Kristin | Age 19

What mental illness(es) are you currently living with?

Depression and PTSD.

What’s one thing you want others to know about your mental illness?

Triggers are serious things that cause me to go into a dissociative episode. Stop making it a funny comment that you use to make fun of people you offend. It’s not light or funny. My episodes are terrifying. I’ve been working for the past four years to ease the reaction I get to these things. I would give anything for someone to understand what it feels like to sit in a movie theater with tears welling over that you can’t stop or control all because a father died in the film.

Once it starts, I feel like I’m not myself and the people with me have to bring me back. It’s like being at his funeral all over again, except I’m sitting in a theater.

It’s the worst feeling, please stop using my pain to make fun of others.

What’s one thing you’re seeking to unlearn about the mental illness(es) you live with?

 I’m working on getting rid of the idea that I need to be happy to be normal. Happy isn’t the default. I am at a good place in my growth. It’s okay to be upset, sad, crazed, moody, and even happy. All my emotions are okay. I’m working to be content with myself, not to be “normal”.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone who loves a person living with a mental illness, and wants to support them?

My advice for anyone loving someone with PTSD is to just be patient with us. There are days where I am productive and happy, and there are days when I’m not. Knowing that my roommate loves me even when I don’t have the will to clean my room is encouragement enough. She knows that eventually I will get to it and surprise her with how clean our room is. Hold your hand out to that person, listen to their story if they need to tell you, and support them in this journey because it can be long and scary. We will thank you later.

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ABOUT THE SERIES

There’s someone that needs to hear that mental illness doesn’t define us. There’s a lot of noise out there about who we are and what we’re capable of. But, we get to speak for ourselves. That’s why this series exists. It’s a small but meaningful addition to Mental Health Awareness MonthStorytelling can break chains and make us feel less alone. Our truths can help others see the other side of a thing, of a person. Our stories can help someone feel a little more empowered, and a little more hopeful. Each series storyteller was brave enough to share a piece of their truth.

To view more stories from the series, visit the series homepage.