How I Learned Not to Romanticize Mental Illness

Let me set the scene: approximately one in the morning, awake typing at the computer, eyes sliding shut, surrounded by anime posters and photos of my friends taped to the wall, trapped in forums and social media sites. At fifteen, I was your average blunt-bangs-wearing, journal-writing, hanging-out-in-a-graveyard teenage queer girl stereotype.

I wasn’t aware of it at the time, but I romanticized mental illness and mental health issues. I longed for an emotionally tortured soul who might be able to accompany me into the late hours of the night, kept awake by insomnia, angry at the world for its discrimination. I ached for someone who I could save – or the other way around – from the trials and traumas that life hands us. With low self-esteem and a deep sense of loss after my mother’s death, I was a mess of Post-Traumatic Martyr Syndrome (that’s not real – it’s my name for how survivors of loss feel the constant need to sacrifice themselves for ‘the greater good’ because they lived and the other person did not) and striped arm warmers courtesy of the mid-2000s.

Article dear hope