I have a mental illness, but don't judge me by a stereotype

My name is Aida and I’m diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and a type of bipolar disorder.

When I was a kid, I was very introverted and it was hard for me to make new friends due to my shyness. I had insomnia and so many fears, I was even afraid to fall asleep at night. I was also very irritable but besides all these negative things I was generous, kind and I loved smiling and making others laugh.

My illness started to show up when I was approximately 14 years old. When I was around that age I started losing friends because I didn’t want to hang out with them nor do the typical teenager things, like drinking or going out partying. Furthermore, I wasn’t interested in what I used to enjoy anymore such as watching TV series, reading or drawing. But the worst of all is that I stopped thinking of goals to achieve nor making plans for my future, not seeing one for myself.

Unfortunately these feelings got worse over time. One of the things I had to fight against these past few years was that I didn’t accept that there was something wrong, and I was even less accepting that I had a mental health disorder. And, as I’m sure that many of you have been through, I didn’t want to take medication. Although this illness was consuming me I was trying my best to get the greatest marks in school so no one could see that I was struggling that much.

I’ve found a path towards recovery which involves medication, therapy, support from my family and friends, writing and telling others about my story whilst helping them.

In this journey I’ve experienced the stigma surrounding mental illness when, for example, a friend stopped talking to me, seeing me as someone damaged and dangerous. I saw it as well when my bosses started judging me after getting a medical leave for a few months because I couldn’t cope with everything. I could also notice it when I got criticized at university for not being able to do much in group projects due to being in a very bad mental state.

Even with all these difficulties, and sometimes thanks to them, I achieved some goals. I got a very high mark when I finished high school, I’m studying a degree that I really love, I worked for two and a half years in the field I like and I maintained a group of friends that help me and support me.

To finish this short summary of my story, I’d like to say to all the ones that don’t suffer from mental illness: I live and contribute in the same way as you do. Therefore, please treat me like the rest and don’t look or talk to me according to the stereotypes or stigma that surrounds mental illness.