Being The Face Of Mental Illness

I live with mental illness. Remember my face the next time you use the mental health stigma. Mental illness is not a character flaw.

I’ve noticed that I am starting to be asked more frequently, “Why do you want this? Why do you want to be seen as someone with a mental illness?”.

Short answer: Because of questions like that!

People feel that I am tainting my name, by publicly stating that I’ve suffered from anorexia, depression and anxiety. The taint that these people see around ‘being someone with mental illness’ is STIGMA.

Enter your information in the fields provided to enroll in my free 4-day mental health advocacy email course, Turning Wisdom Into Words!

Why should I hide my mental illness? Why is it socially unacceptable for someone to state their diagnosis?

Mental illness has made me who I’ve become.

I live with mental illness.

I am the 1 in 5 American adults who have a mental illness.

I am proud of who I am. If anorexia had not entered my life in 2011, I would be an entirely different person. If depression and anxiety weren’t a part of my everyday routine, I would have never founded SPIES, I would have never met even half of the amazing people that SPIES has reached, and you would have one less person on your support team (and that is not okay!).

I want to be the face of mental illness so when stigma is brought up, people can visually understand who they are shaming.

I am a twenty year old girl. I graduated college with a 3.6 GPA. I began working immediately after my second year of college at the World’s Most Famous Arena. I founded my own company and started a mental health movement at age 18. I’ve been a patient in a psychiatric hospital for anorexia and I struggle with my depression every day.

Does that last sentence change your opinion of me? Did it make you second guess yourself?

Mental illness doesn’t mean we are crazy, inhuman, and unable to adjust to the societal norm, it just means that we are sick.

Would you call out a girl who beat cancer? Would you ask her why she wants to be seen as a cancer survivor? No, you wouldn’t. You would think she was brave, strong, and doing an amazing thing.

I want to be the face of mental illness so when stigma is brought up, people can visually understand who they are shaming.

Surviving cancer and recovering from an eating disorder are equivalent. Both:

  • are a sickness, not a decision
  • can be hereditary
  • can take you years to fight
  • are illnesses that can be defeated
  • are diseases that can take your life
  • require emotional and physical strength to endure

Would you like me to continue... or are you beginning to understand what I mean?

There is nothing that anyone could ever say to me that would result in me ending discussion about my story with the world. It’s part of who I am and quite frankly, it’s the most important part of who I am.

Enter your information in the fields provided to enroll in my free 4-day mental health advocacy email course, Turning Wisdom Into Words!

Marissa Pane

New York