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Your words are your power. How will you use yours?
By: Dawn Sachleben

20140218-121144After being in recovery for almost two years I think of myself as somewhat stable (we all have our days). But something that happened recently made me question my strength and stability. I was used as a reference for a negative role model in a psychology class at the college I attend. I have never met this student personally, but from what I understand she had overheard me talk about my battle with mental illness/addiction/eating disorder with a fellow classmate who happens to be in her class and thought that I was the perfect model of what not to be. I found it amazing and frightening that even after working hard at my recovery for so long that I could be triggered into feeling some of the guilt and hatred I had once felt towards myself yet again.

I have a very hard time understanding why as a society we feel the need to talk about people we do not even know. Words can be very powerful and without knowing someone we can never be sure how the words that come out of our mouths will affect them. I was taught by one of my elementary school teachers that we are all fragile beautiful beings and we need to embrace our differences not discourage them. Society has somehow taught us if someone is different than the “social norm” that group or individual should be shunned. Is this really an okay thing to do? Are we really that self-centered as a whole to not see that we are all human beings. Somehow somewhere something needs to be done to erase these negative stigmas because everyone is deserving of a chance. We need to remember to think before we speak because there is no way to tell if the negative words coming out of our mouth will send someone to a dark place. When I am responding to a situation verbally I often hear my moms voice in my head reminding me that if I don’t have anything nice to say to not say anything at all.

Before I entered into recovery I had decided that it was not ok for my brain to be sick. I think this was StopTheStigma_WordsMattermainly due to societies negative response to mental illness. I fought hard to hide my illness and treatment from others because I believed I would be treated differently once the word got out. Silently suffering only caused me to feel very alone in my fight; and that no one would understand what goes on in my head. This all changed when I began treatment, I found others of all ages struggling with very similar illnesses. I found comfort in knowing that I was not alone that others had silently suffered from the same diseases and I began to have hope.

Through the last two years I have found my voice, I am no longer afraid to tell people who I am and the diseases I suffer from. Mental Illness is a disease and should be recognized in society as one. I hope in the future that we don’t have to be afraid to be ourselves. Together we are strong and can work towards erasing the negative stigma that surrounds us.

This is Where I Stand