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Comment: There is hope for people with mental illness

Mental illness is silent, but powerful. It is like having a rock in your shoe and you can’t remove it. It can strike when you least expect it and change your life forever. I have a mental illness.

Mental illness is silent, but powerful. It is like having a rock in your shoe and you can’t remove it. It can strike when you least expect it and change your life forever.

I have a mental illness. My purpose in writing this is to educate others about mental illness and tell others that there is hope for people like me.

I became sick about two years ago and was diagnosed with bipolar and obsessive compulsive disorder. I also have clinical depression and high general anxiety.

So far, my illness affects my life greatly. I worry about so many little things that are not worth worrying about. I upset the people that I care about most.

When it comes to OCD, I worry about whether my clothes are aligned with my clothes rack. This is just one of the ridiculous things I check. When it comes to bipolar, my mood changes instantly from sad to happy and from mad to settled. Tiny little things can send me into a severe mood swing.

When it comes to clinical depression and high general anxiety, I feel sad and I get anxious about everything.

I would like to share interesting facts about each aspect of my illness. A new national online survey found that 89 per cent of the people who took it said they have cancelled social engagements due to bipolar depression. Bipolar disorder may affect about eight million American adults.

Additionally, 73 per cent of people with bipolar disorder reported that their condition affected their ability to do housework. Fifty-nine per cent said it affected their ability to run errands.

What I find really interesting is that many people with bipolar disorder report spending more time in the depressive phase — which includes having a hard time concentrating — than in the manic phase.

Second, in the United States, about one in 40 adults and one in 100 children have OCD. OCD is characterized by obsessions and compulsions that take up at least an hour a day — but usually longer — and can cause a lot of stress.

Third, clinical depression is a mood that lingers and can change the way a person thinks or feels. Depression is treatable and can be caused by chemical imbalances in the brain, hormonal changes, medication or things going on in your life.

Last, general high anxiety is characterized by an uncontrollable and unrealistic worry about everyday situations that include school, work, relationships or health. For it to be diagnosed as general anxiety, the worrying has to happen on most days for at least six months.

From my experience, living with mental illness is extremely difficult. One day, I went to the mall with my mom and we went to a frozen-yogurt place. I kept asking the worker whether the yogurt had caffeine. I was concerned that I would not sleep if I had some. The woman helping us got slightly frustrated with me.

A few months later, we went back to the same place. I asked a different woman whether the yogurt had caffeine and she had to check with her co-worker.

It turned out that the co-worker was the woman who had gotten frustrated with me a few months earlier. This time, she looked even more frustrated. I guess I have to charge it to my illness. She did not understand.

That brings us back to why I am writing this: For you to be more aware of people with mental illness so you can understand us better. There are a lot of us. Not only did I write this to educate others and to make others more aware, I wrote this to say that there is hope for us.

I asked my doctor whether I will get better, and he said I will get worse before I get better. But you know what? I don’t believe him. I said that if God is willing, he will heal me completely. Additionally, I have strategies and coping mechanisms to fight this sickness. I believe in miracles.

Micah Adel is a Grade 10 student at South Island Distant Education School in Saanich.