All My Life, No One Told Me
You are your own trailblazer, you define your mental illness and set or break your own limitations.
Written by Karyn Inder
01 Karyn is an advocate, model and podcast host who is vocal about her experiences with mental health.
02 For our May #NoOneToldMe campaign, she opens up about all the things she never knew about mental wellbeing in adolescence.
03 There is no cookie cutter solution to mental illness. We are all individual in what we feel and experience, and how we seek treatment and relief.
No one told me that thinking your parents were poisoning you isn’t exactly a normal thought to have while sitting at the dinner table.
No one told me that cutting, hallucinations, screaming at yourself, hitting your leg with hammers, ripping out your hair and being physically sick all of the time wasn’t something a 9-year-old should be experiencing. No one told me that I would be accused of wanting attention when I asked for help and no one told me that, as a minor, I would be administered medication.
No one told me that mental illness was a thing. No one told me that I wasn’t ‘crazy’, that I was a normal person with a chemical imbalance. No one told me there was hope, an opportunity for a life similar to others. No one told me the benefits of therapy and no one told me I could be my own advocate. No one told me that I would have to work five times harder, on top of the five times harder I was already working, than everybody else.
People told me all the time that life was worth living, but they neglected to tell me that life was still worth living even with mental illness. No one told me that treatment wouldn’t solve all of my problems. No one told me that, after fighting thirteen years for my life and fighting five times harder than anyone else for the same opportunities, that I would then be faced with stigmas, stereotypes and discrimination.
No one told me the profound ignorance that slithered through families, relationships and workplace environments. No one told me that researching, studying and learning about my disorder should follow researching, studying and learning about human rights, my rights, my rights as an employee with a disability and my rights as a person in this world.
No one told me that while fighting my illness, I would be fighting societal and cultural views at the same time. No one told me that sometimes, societal and cultural views would win. No one told me that access to mental health resources were not equal to everyone. No one told me about the extra challenges many communities faced when trying to access help.
No one told me that some doctors would treat you like a textbook and others would treat you like a living breathing person. No one told me that 75% of the time, my concerns would be valid and the other 25% of the time, there would be a pill for that concern, and another for the other concern, and more pills for any concerns that were concerned about the original concerns.
No one told me that my disability would be held against me. No one told me that by being public with my mental health, I would forfeit the ability to show and express real emotions in order for me to be taken seriously by others.
No one told me that a life with mental illness was still a life worth living.
No one told me that people who live with mental illness are the strongest people, period. No one told me that, if you work really hard, seek treatment, balance medications and lifestyle and have a tight medical support team, that you can live the life you never knew existed for you.
No one told me that I am worthy of the same opportunities in life as everyone else. That I am more than my disorder, worthy and deserving of healthy professional, platonic and romantic relationships.
No one told me that one day, everything will have been worth it; that a diagnosis, treatment and recovery were possible. No one told me that I would be able to achieve my dream of being a model, live on my own, move to a new city by myself, become a public speaker, get married, live in the kind of stability and normalcy that I didn’t know existed for me... that I only thought existed for others.
But most importantly, no one told me that there is strength in not being told everything and figuring it out on my own.
You are your own trailblazer, you define your mental illness and set or break your own limitations. You are free to experiment and see what works for you, outside of textbooks and focus groups. I want to share what no one told me, but at the same time, I want to instill the same freedom in you that I had.
There is no cookie cutter solution and we are all individual in what we feel and experience, and how we seek treatment and relief. Seek treatment, fight for yourself, for your rights and the rights of others. Be your own advocate, at home, with friends, at the doctor. If one pill doesn’t work, find another. Repeat until you find something that works for you. Don’t stop fighting. Move your body, eat well. Pair your medications with water and lifestyle changes. Let yourself have bad days and don’t forget to enjoy the good ones. Literally assume that you are breathing the wrong way and learn breathing exercises. Set firm boundaries (don’t make me repeat myself!) redefine your core values and always remember: take what you need, give what you can, be a community ally and always assume good intention.