I recently applied to be a Role Model for the brand WearYourLabel, and in doing so I had to give a brief summary of my mental health experience.
I was diagnosed with dysthymia in grade 9 following the death of my best friend, and becoming the victim of sexual assault. I quit self-harming in grade 10 because I was terrified that if my future children saw my scars they would think it was okay for them to cut themselves too. Instead of physically hurting myself I ended up getting caught in an emotionally abusive relationship. I didn’t know why I was sad and that bothered me. My solution was to pick a fight with my boyfriend so he would yell and scream at me, giving me a reason to be sad. We stayed together for 3 years, tormenting each other.
Of course I didn’t realize that at the time. We broke up 3 years ago and since coming to university I have had a lot of time to grow as an individual and discover how my mind works. I’m proud to say that since I started studying psychology at UofT I’ve learned a lot about my disorder and I’m definitely starting to experience less depressive episodes now that I understand myself better.
My 2nd year abnormal psych prof was describing what living with dysthymia was like in class one day. I could tell he didn’t have the disorder and really had no idea what he was talking about because he said individuals with dysthymia are basically Debby Downers. I have never been so offended in my life. He studies mental health for a living but still has the audacity to stigmatize the disorder. He of all people should know what the stigma around mental health can do to people like me.
Thanks to him I have taken it upon myself to inform people that even though dysthymia isn’t as severe as depression it is just as important. In dysthymia depressive episodes last longer than in major depressive disorder, and in my opinion that makes it more dangerous in a sense.
I want to be a Role Model so people with less severe mental health disorders still feel like they are important enough to seek help to feel better. Everyone deserves to feel valued.