EMILY GILL: BETTER OFF DEAD?

That title got your attention now didn't it? This will be an extremely detailed blog so here is your warning. The reason for this detailed blog is because the more open and transparent we are with our trauma and experiences, we can help each other to heal. This one is for all the mental health fighters who are bullied for their diagnosis.

I recently watched the new Netflix series “13 Reasons Why”. I was left in tears as I watched a young teenage girl take her own life because she was being severely bullied. I want you to take a moment to think about who you last talked negatively about, spread gossip about or judged. If we are all honest with ourselves we can think of someone. Now, take a moment and think about the last time you were bullied. I bet you were left feeling broken, helpless and upset. So here is my question, why do people continue to hurt, gossip, bully, and judge one another if they know what it is like? It is like putting your hand in hot water and getting burned but turning around and dumping a whole pot of boiling hot water over someone else. We need to remember that our words and actions are powerful, they can kill. This Netflix series was a chilling reminder of that. Seriously how many suicides does it have to take in order for people to realize what they say hurts?

I hit rock bottom 5 years ago which is something I have been open about for the last few years. I had made up my mind that I was better off dead and there was no changing it. Although, I didn't have a physical illness like cancer, a heart problem, diabetes or whatever else, I was very sick. My body was working but my brain wasn’t and as a result I didn't want to live. Situations that I had experienced added up and I didn’t know how to cope with it. I wanted it all to end because my brain was tricking me, I was tired of hiding the cuts under my name brand clothes and I didn’t want to live the rest of my life feeling disgusting, crazy and alone. I am now lucky enough to be one of the ones that see this wasn’t the case.

When I was going through treatment in the hospital, I received countless messages and phone calls telling me to kill myself. Just like Hannah Baker in “13 Reasons Why”, I was severely bullied because I had a mental illness. Although in the past 5 years great strides have been made to the stigma around mental health, back then it was unbearable. I remember waking up one day and deciding that if I am fully honest about my struggles then hopefully no one could make fun of me for them. I used the hospital computer and made a status with a photo (all 78 pounds of me) explaining that I was in a psych ward learning to deal with certain issues. Today, we see many people opening up about their struggles with mental health but back then this was extremely unusual. I would like to think this is the day that my passion to create YouAreMore started. 

After this was posted, the bullying became worse. I realize that some situations were because the lack of knowledge people had about mental health. However, there were some people that personally went out of their way to let me know how they felt. They wanted me to know that maybe I should have dug that blade a little bit deeper, I should have taken a few more pills or that I asked for what I went through. Makes sense right? NO. It continued to escalate to being told that I was better off dead, that I faked my way through high school to get good grades, and my brain was so messed up that I could never be normal. There was a certain group of people who kept leaving me voicemails while I was in the hospital. They wanted to make sure that I knew I was crazy in their eyes, disgusting, and shouldn’t be alive. They continued to give me no reasons to live, only reasons why I didn’t want to live. It came to the point where my Dad had to tell them to never contact me again. I would like to say that 5 years later things have changed but sadly this is not the case. I am still trying to put pieces of me back together, slowly but surely. These bullies broke me, burned me and made my fight to live a living hell. I may be mentally stronger now, went through extensive treatment, founded YouAreMore, and have great friends and family but that will never fully take away the pain. It took me years to take what I went through and make something out of myself but honestly… I still wake up crying from nightmares at night, I still see some scars on my skin and I still have people who are trying to remind me that I don’t deserve to be on this earth. 

There was recent a situation that reminded me how powerful words can be. A photo was posted of me and some individuals (ones that my Dad once told to never contact me again) were posting rude comments. These are people that I have not talked to in 5 years but felt the need to comment how I was a piece of junk, brutal and the most horrific was that they thought I was "dying". It then continued to escalate to “how was I not dead yet” messages. As I read these comments while doing an errand, I collapsed in a parking lot crying and my heart broke into a million pieces. It felt like I was being thrown into boiling hot water, I couldn’t get out and I was starting to drown. I would never wish this incredible pain on anyone, even on these bullies. It took me awhile to be able to pull myself together and get home. When I told my family and close friends they were shocked that these individuals had the nerve to contact me. I don't know how to put this in a nice way… but grow up. This situation shows that there is still a lot more work to be done towards killing the stigma centred around mental health. I am also reminded why stories like “13 Reasons Why” are being turned into movies. This is still happening all the time, it’s incredibly painful and IT NEEDS TO STOP. 

So to the individuals that are being bullied for having a mental illness, I am so sorry. I am so sorry that you have to go through what feels unbearable. I am sorry you have to cry yourself to sleep. Hold on because if we talk about our experiences together, we can help show others that no one is ever alone. Now to those who bully others to build themselves up, who judge mental illnesses and pick apart other people’s flaws, I hope one day you never have to feel the pain that you have inflicted on others. I hope you never have to find a loved one who has lost their battle to a mental illness because they were told that they are better off dead. Most of all, I hope you know you will not break me, ever again.