By Christine XP

Mental illness has never been my favorite term to describe mental health issues. It sounds harsh and scary. I mean, yes, I use the term mental illness in every day conversation, but that’s mainly because it is understood. People have heard of it and know what it means. I guess what I struggle with is how people interpret mental illness. Do they truly know what it means?

​I’ve been living with mental illness for over 4 years. I’ve gotten incredible amounts of support from others, but I have also faced the stigma. I’m here to let you know that people with mental illness are not crazy. We are people too, and we deserve to be treated in ways that others would want to be treated.
​Being a 16 year old girl is a challenge in itself. I have learned how to cope with my mental health issues, but I am nowhere near perfect. I will struggle my whole life because of anxiety, depression, and being diagnosed as bipolar. I will never be told that I can’t handle it, though. I balance what I can. I maneuver through life the best that I can. If I need to cry, I will cry. If I need to be alone, I spend some time by myself. It’s all about figuring yourself out and doing what you can to keep yourself in your best mental health state.

​Brain XP is Brain Expanded. That is what I am. My mental health issues just tell me that my brain is expanded and works in ways that nobody else’s brain can. Our brains are special, and we have mental illnesses for a reason. We were chosen to face these battles because we can handle them. Mental illness is Brain XP, and people who are Brain XP are proud to be a part of the mental health community. We bring meaning to mental illness, so that others know we do not need to be feared.

​Working together is the way to end the stigma of mental illness and bring out the positivity of Brain XP. I am Brain XP, are you?

Thank you for your honest words, Christine. The way to end stigma surrounding mental illness is to talk about it, and it is awesome that you can put your story into words so others can learn what recovery looks like. You are doing great work! 

This post originally appeared on Medium, and you can view it here.