The Vermont Connection


Content Warning: discrimination, suicidal ideation, violence

When I write about mental illness, I use the terms: disability, identity, and relationship. However, no word captures what mental illness means to me. Mental illness is somehow both a part of me and a separate, intangible entity. Every day is an exhausting struggle to live with and understand it, and during my first year of graduate school, I experienced covert ableism. This harm caused a long and tedious recovery process on top of ongoing unlearning and healing. Through recovery, I adopted the practice of “embracing the whole” of emotions, feelings, symptoms, and triggers. I questioned the concept of “professionalism” emphasized in my assistantship, which often included dehumanizing emotions. However, I will not expend additional emotional labor to educate those who committed ableist actions. Instead, I will write in depth about my mental illness experiences to relate to folx who have a mental illness. Through this article, I hope that folx with mental illness can empower themselves to embrace the whole of their emotions and the authenticity of their experiences, honoring their own bravery and vulnerability.