Back to Top

I am Me, Myself, and I

People silhouetted by the setting sun

Written by Rebekah Stewart

            While growing up, I had many names; crazy, lazy, hyper, slow learner, and also Rebekah.  I was born into a poor, large, single parent family made up of individuals with varying mental illnesses at different degrees of severity, and sadly became accustomed to hearing myself and those that I loved labeled “crazy”. We lived the struggle of judgement, bias and shame, when we were denied and humiliated.   As we learned about what we were facing, we also labeled, asking is he “Bi Polar”, are they “Schizophrenic”, and unknowingly perpetuating the stigma, and the depersonalization, of the people we would meet.  From a very young age, I would feel the burn of resentment, knowing that this is NOT who we are!  As I grew older, I would wake up with the resolve that I would show everyone that I was not one of their labels, and then I would try to create my own.  It wasn’t until I was well past considered being an adult, and was diagnosed with ADHD and SAD, that I truly began to understand that a label is nothing more than a word or words used to describe a person, and that is all .  I remember over and over the debates I would have with my mother and siblings, saying “you are NOT your condition”!  This among many other reasons, inspired me to become an advocate for those suffering from and challenged with mental illness.  

            When we begin to see people as their diagnoses, we dehumanize and distance ourselves from them.  I liken it to an insect in a glass terrarium, with us tapping the glass and asking, “What is it?”  Each person on this planet is a unique and beautiful representation of a gift of life and love.  Each talent, accomplishment, challenge, or failing is our own to embrace, understand and learn from. We are not an “it”, we are a “who”, and we are who we choose to be.   Granted some face challenges nearly beyond comprehension, hurtles that seem almost insurmountable, through no fault of their own, and yet the person facing them is a PERSON, like my own mother.  I wasn’t raised by “Bi Polar DID”, I was raised, taught and loved by an amazingly talented, intelligent and industrious mother, who in the face of each internal and external struggle, prevailed, and succeeded to the best of her ability to raise 8 children to adulthood.  

            In the society we live in, the stigma of Mental Illness often blinds others to the qualities of the human beings that they interact with every day.  This stigma can cause the development of bias that can lead to the loss or denial of basic human rights, human needs, even common courtesy.  It is our social responsibility, our moral obligation, to reach within ourselves, examine and remove these biases, and make a concentrated effort to model, teach and change the world around us.