Melinda R. California

Mental illness.

The way the American government and the general public trivialize mental illness needs to stop.

Dear future president,

My name is Melinda Rivas, I am 15 years old, and I have Bipolar Disorder and anxiety, my mother has it too. My brother has depression, my cousin has schizophrenia. One in four out everyone in America alone are diagnosed with a mental disorder, so why is there so much stigma behind it? We either treat people with mental disorders as attention seekers or fragile pieces of glass, to be cautious around because they're easily broken. It has come to the point where people are afraid to admit to their illnesses, as I have been. What people don't understand is, no, we're not crazy, and yes, some days are definitely harder than others, to the point where even any social interaction or getting out of bed is a struggle, but no, we try not to use it as an excuse. We need to make it so people aren't afraid to come out and admit to their disorders and not feel ashamed because it's really not their fault. It is such a terrible feeling to hide a part of yourself because you're afraid of being judged or treated differently. Until now, only a select few know about my BP and only one knows how I actually feel. For years I was so afraid to just come out and just admit that I do have a disorder and that I can get help and that I can be happy. I go through points in my life where getting out of bed is so difficult and it just feels like their are dark clouds surrounding me, my patience runs thinner than normal and social interaction hurts, the only thoughts filling my head are that of suicide and self harm and bad memories the only solution seeming to be killing myself, and then I go through times where I feel like I am at the top of the world and nothing could bring me down and that I could take on any task that comes my way. Future president, please, help these children get the help they need, and help them understand themselves. I, like most other teens, didn't get help until the first suicide attempt, nor until one of the many times lines on my body were intricately cut into my skin with the blade of a sharpener on one of "those" nights. Please, start or fund a campaign to raise awareness, our youth shouldn't have to go through the pain of silence and the suffering of dark thoughts and self mutilation. We shouldn't have to be afraid to wear shorts or short sleeved shirts or of changing in front of team mates in the chance of exposing scars, because there shouldn't be any in the first place. We shouldn't be afraid about talking about our feelings and thoughts because, they're so natural that, statistically, one in four of us have similar thoughts. And we shouldn't be shamed into silence by the fear of social backlash.

Sincerely, Melinda Rivas.