Telling our story is something that we talk a lot about here. We want you to feel heard in your experiences and feel like people are there to listen to you when you need it. It helps to not only give us a sense of catharsis in our pain and struggles but also to help us show what experiencing mental illness is truly like. We want to shed more light on how these experiences truly are and how they really affect us. There are so many different ideas and perspectives that people who haven’t suffered have, and too many of them are too far from the truth. We don’t necessarily want to point the finger or blame them for it, but we do recognize that it’s something that needs to change. In that effort to change things and help break down stigmas, we can also get wrapped up in what we think is right. We start to develop a specific idea of how mental illness goes and we start to hold firm to the belief that our experience is the experience. 

This can manifest itself especially when viewing, or listening to, pieces of media. We see these stories that are meant to represent our struggles but we don’t see anything of our story in there. A film or show touts itself as being an examination of mental health, but instead, we see it as something different entirely. We feel lied to, betrayed, and even angry at the story you have seen. The truth is that a lot of these stories get it wrong, and they get it wrong intentionally. Mental illness isn’t glamorous, nor can it even be exciting. For a lot of us, it is spent working internally, combing through our thoughts and emotions; our exterior isn’t showing much besides a few physical symptoms. They change this to make it more engaging, or in an attempt to make it more engaging. They change around some facts, some details, and they push the limits of the truth a bit – or a lot – and that’s the film they’ve made. It is initially frustrating to see. Again, we feel cheated out of something and like our voices aren’t actually being heard. What could have been a chance for us to feel represented is, instead, something we view as a misrepresentation of us. It can feel incredibly disheartening and, sometimes, infuriating.

Dealing with Wrong Representation of Ourselves

We get where you are coming from in that anger; we have felt it too. We all want to feel represented properly and in the way that we want. We want OUR story to be told. But there could be an issue within that mindset, and it can be where our anger comes from. We have to understand that everyone is different and that there are many different stories to tell. We can’t expect every story about mental illness to be the story that we live in. There are going to be stories that should be told that aren’t similar to what we went through. Everyone is different and they all deserve to be celebrated in their uniqueness. We know this sounds simple, but we have seen many people not follow through with this mindset. Furthermore, you can extend it to viewing pieces of media. Perhaps, the story on screen is inherently flawed, but necessary, for the film to be made. It doesn’t have to necessarily be a bad thing for the film to change things up some, and, in fact, can still open the doors to change that we need. At the heart of it is the fact that a film about mental illness was attempted to be made. We know that sometimes it can be damaging or wrong, but there are also times where it can be a sign of progress. It shows us that people are wanting to tell stories about mental illness, they want to create a voice for it. Someone out there is trying to give us representation. Sometimes it might not work quite as we would like it to, but we can still give credit to the intent. Flawed doesn’t have to mean bad.

This road to change is going to be covered in bumps and setbacks. There are going to be times where well-intentioned actions end up falling short of what they need to be. We need to keep a sense of grace in these events, and not let it get us angry or upset. We need to understand that understanding will not come immediately and that it will take time for other people to truly get it. We can tell them and we are entitled to feel some amount of pain in it, but we don’t have to take it out on others. Keeping in mind the intent behind an action is truly important to help us create these bridges. Our story will be told, eventually; maybe it’s not correct right now, but we are getting there.

If you, or anyone you know, is struggling with anxiety or mental illness, do not hesitate to contact the team here at True Recovery. Our facility is located in Newport Beach, California, with our supportive housing located close to our campus in Costa Mesa. Take advantage of the local beaches, nature preserves, and Orange County community while we fight for you. Contact us at (866) 399-6528 or [email protected]