I’m Terrified of Sharing This
It’s 6:02am. I’ve been lying in bed awake for hours thinking about typing these very words. It’s been months since this has affected my life and been such a weight on my shoulders. The pressure of trying to hide it is killing me. I’ve been wanting to share this for a long time but I just haven’t had the willpower. Because to be honest, I was afraid of what people will think of me. So what is it that I’m sharing?
My Battle With Mental Health
Sometime mid last year I fell into a very deep depression that nearly took my life. I started going to a therapist every week, I saw slight improvements over a few months but I just couldn’t shake it off me. The depression ate me alive and prevented me from living a normal life. I lost my appetite and food became tasteless. I knew it was bad when I started losing weight. Getting out of bed became harder and harder everyday. I started hating things that had previously brought me a lot of joy and fulfillment like being with friends, listening to music, photography, and work. It got so bad, that at one point my family cornered me and asked me to go to somewhere I can get more help. So I did. I spent 3 months of last year fighting for my life with the lovely people over at Loma Linda Behavioral Health Center (big shout out to Stephen my therapist lol) where I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, Major Depression Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and Schizoaffective Disorder. While I have graduated from the program, I’m not “cured” at all by any means. I still battle with depression, anxiety, and many other things daily and that’s okay. I learned a lot at Loma Linda from coping skills, to meditation, to how to think dialectically, but if anything I realized how much of a journey life really is and that I’m just going to have to work a bit harder at it than some.
By now, I’m sure you have either heard of or even believe some of the stigmas surrounding mental illness/health so I want to take some time to debunk that junk for you. What is stigma? Stigma causes people to feel ashamed for something that is out of their control. So in an attempt to clear things up, here we go. We’re not just going to snap out of it one day, it takes a lot of work. Don’t tell us we are anti-social, I love meeting being around people. No, we don’t need “thicker” skin. No, this isn’t an excuse to do whatever we want. It’s not that we need to “try harder.” Yes, we’re regular people just like you. What was that? Oh, yes, we’re regular people just like you. Aaaand one more time for the people in the back, we are regular people just like you. I personally fight stigma by not having stigma for myself, by not hiding from this world in shame and by being a productive member of society. Everyday I fight by choosing to live an empowered life. To me, that means owning my life and my story and refusing to allow others to dictate how I view or feel about myself.
Why I’m Sharing This With You
You may be surprised upon hearing my news, in fact, a lot of people are when I tell them about my mental health history. But the truth is, I really do struggle with these things and they are not to be underestimated. Being this vulnerable and sharing all of this with the world is scary as f*ck. But you know what, at this point, I care a lot less about what people think of me and a hell of a lot more about helping people. Which is why I made Benjamin Atchley Creative. In the same way that people helped me, I have decided that I’m going to use my time, energy, and talents to help people too. Well maybe not in the exact same way (I’m no therapist or psychologist), I’m going to pitch in by writing and sharing openly about mental health topics, by telling powerful stories with media, and by loving those around me well. I am purpose driven and want to show others they can live a meaningful life even while battling mental illness.
My name is Benjamin Atchley and I live with mental illness.
#MentalHealth #IAmStigmaFree #FreeHugs #BenjaminAtchleyCreative