Romeo and Juliet is a play about two children and their families’ strife, cutting their relationship loose and killing both the starstruck lovers in an attempt on their lives.
My life is a memoir about my best friend and his parents’ strife against my mental illness, stopping me from getting to where I need to be with their unholy comments on how I am suffering from depression, an illness they don’t think exists, cutting my life loose and breaking me down again, something that they have done numerous times before.
He called me an emo freak. He called me something that shouldn’t ever be repeated again by anybody, and a middle aged man should not be calling a fifteen-year-old girl suffering from depression a name like that. Ever.
Depression is not a hobby. Depression is not a fraud. Depression comes in all shapes and sizes to fit all kinds of people. Long ago I was sad. I was miserable with myself and others. I hated the world and most of all, I hated me.
But now I’m okay, but it doesn’t stop me from thinking about my best friend’s father and his stigma against mental illness. I hate it, as I hate thinking about what could have happened if I had taken all the pills in the medicine cabinet the night before I was sent to the hospital.
Because I am not an “emo freak”, and I am not who I used to be. I have never met my best friend’s parents, and they have never met me. They are feverish with ideas about me without even knowing me, festering in judgement. Because they don’t believe in depression, they don’t believe in me. They hate me and ridicule me behind my back, and it wasn’t until now that I am standing up for it.
Because depression is not a joke. Depression is not a fake, nor is it a thing one can just “get over.” But all those things have been said to me by people who don’t see the consequences of their actions, and don’t get how mental illness affects people like me.
So to all the “emo freaks” out there, I’m talking to you, and I need my voice to be heard. You don’t deserve this kind of treatment from people, especially people older than you. It is not necessary for them to be telling you you’re inferior to them. You don’t deserve the hesitant glances and stares and the whispers and the questions about where you were for those two weeks you were in the hospital. You don’t deserve the snickers and the disgusted looks when you tell them you have bipolar disorder, or depression, or anger issues, or attention deficit disorder, or anything at all.
So let’s stand up for ourselves once and for all and cleanse this world of its prejudice and insecurities. The world is afraid of different, and because we are different, we are the lost and forgotten. People turn their heads and walk away when they hear of our fate. People are cruel and need to be educated. My experiences matter, and yours do too. You don’t deserve this kind of cold shoulder and whispers behind your back. You don’t deserve this kind of madness and inferiority. People like us should be helped, not stopped from being helped. People like us should get better, not worse thinking about how they should be “normal.”
Because it’s time to stop the stigma. Adults are responsible for our voices, and when they don’t listen, we are responsible to speak up for ourselves. I need my voice to be heard, and I need my lesson to be learned. I need to speak once and for all, and my voice is an advocate to all those who care to listen.
So no thanks to you, you people who say mental illness doesn’t exist, because it really does. I’ve felt it with my skin, my heart and my head, and I can tell you it’s the realest thing I’ve ever experienced.
So no thanks to you, my best friend’s dad, who thinks that just because it doesn’t exist for him, it doesn’t exist for anybody. And if by chance you’re reading this right now, I hope that you hear me loud and clear. I don’t hate myself anymore. I hate mental illness, as I hate Hell, all Montagues, and thee.