Sarah Schiro is a nursing student and mother of two highly energetic toddlers. She spends her days chasing children, frantically memorizing lab values, and trying to clean the house. Writing is her way to escape the busyness, exhale, and take inventory of her thoughts. As a mother living with mental illness, Sarah shares her story because she wants this next generation to grow up in a more accepting world.
Why do I blog?
Sometimes I find myself wanting to tell my story, but I have a hard time formulating the words in my head on the spot. When that happens, I feel like my voice is trapped inside me and writing is my outlet. It gives me the luxury of time to pick and choose my words to say exactly what I mean to say.
I found BC2M….
I am a nursing student. My mental health nursing instructor had our class look at the BC2M website in preparation for a class discussion on stigma. As I reviewed the material, I profoundly connected with the message of BC2M. I could see all the ways I was letting embarrassment about the depression and anxiety I experience affect my life, and for the first time I connected that sense of shame to stigma.
What Stigma Means to Me:
From the time I was 14 until I was 19, I coped with the depression and anxiety I experience by cutting, restricting, and purging. At that time, I would have told you, “Self harm has destroyed my life.” I lost friends, I lost my job, and I was asked to leave my high school and my college due to the fact that I could not stop cutting myself. The feelings of isolation and rejection that resulted from those experiences branded my mind with the fear of being stigmatized – so much so that I was afraid to tell my story even after 11 years of sobriety from eating disorders and self-harm. People knew because of the scars on my arms that are pretty clearly from self-harm, but I didn’t share why.
I definitely didn’t share about my ongoing struggle with depression and anxiety. I just wanted to leave the past in past and for everyone to think I was okay. Only my husband really knew the degree to which I am still affected by mental illness. When I looked at the material on the BC2M website, I realized how important it is for people like me who live with mental illness to share our stories because our stories can bring others hope. We can end the silence around the topic of stigma and bring to light how crucial it is for people who live with mental illness to know that, when they are ready to reach out for help, they will be met with understanding.
The Way I Find Wellness:
There are two main ways I find wellness. The first is by evaluating my thoughts and choosing to replace negative, self-destructive thoughts with true, healthy thoughts. I do this through writing, journaling, meditation, and prayer. I talk about my thoughts with people that I trust to give me honest feedback. There are times when my thoughts are more driven by depression or anxiety, and, during these exacerbations of mental illness, I rely on my trusted friends to give me perspective. The second is through letting myself be loved unconditionally by the people who care about me. I have a few people in my life who I trust enough to be vulnerable with. I let them into the mess that is my experience with anxiety and depression. I tell them everything. I “fall apart.” I cry. A lot.
If I Had a Magic Wand:
I would change the world. In my world, there would be no more war, no more hatred, no more fear, no more stigma. Instead there would be peace, love, courage, and acceptance.
My Pick-Me-Up Song:
“Here Comes the Sun“ by The Beatles
Favorite (Mental Health) Book:
Reviving Ophelia by Mary Pipher
If I were a superhero, I would be / have powers to…
I would be a mutant with the power of teleportation, an extra set of hands, and the ability to multi-task.
I have friends and family spread across that world, and I would love to be able walk through a portal to visit them whenever I want.
The extra hands would come in handy (pun intended) for juggling my many responsibilities as a wife, mom, and student.
Words to Live By:
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” – Nelson Mandela