“I got shunned (out), I got ignored, I got treated differently.”
You are standing up, looking at the world bustling about. You are surrounded by people talking to one another and laughing together. In a spontaneous gesture, you step forward to join them. Until you hit something hard and cold. Your body crashes against what seems to be glass. You don’t understand what is going on. This wall made of glass just appeared out of nowhere. There it stands, between you and the rest of the world. You start banging against it, as if to get everyone’s attention. People are looking at you now. Instead of reaching out to you and being concerned about you, they just stand and stare at you. Others simply walk past without a single glance. You find it difficult to breathe now. You stop struggling and you look at the people, taken aback. You just want to lock eyes with them. You just want to see the compassion and empathy they usually share with one another. You lay your back against the glass and your legs finally give up on you. That’s when it all sinks in you.
“I know what it’s like to be labelled and pushed aside. Why judge me now that you know?”
Since she was 13 years old, Colleen* has been successively diagnosed with depression, borderline personality disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and an eating disorder, just to name a few. It’s difficult to start your teenage years with such a diagnosis.
Now at the age of 30, Colleen sits in her one-bedroom basement apartment and talks about her personal struggles. The prejudices she’s faced, the jobs she’s lost, the education programs she’s missed out on. Unfortunately, Colleen’s experience is not unique. People struggling with mental health issues have encountered various situations where their worth was questioned.
“I don’t know if it’s my theory on life, but I always tell myself there’s gotta be a reason…if it can help someone else going through all this stuff or just give them hope that it gets better, than I really do feel it’s worth it, like that was the reason, that was the purpose.”
Stay tuned for the next two articles about Colleen. This is the first one of a three-post series. Next week on Tuesday July 12th, we’ll publish the second part.
*to protect their privacy, WICA did not use their last name.