A Decade Of Denial

I told the people closest to me,
That I am not what they see.
Confused, they asked, “What do you mean?”
I told them, “I’ve been different since I was thirteen.”

Thirteen, I usually felt like I was last,
And when I didn’t, I was having a blast.
My mind felt torn – like it had a mind of its own,
But I stayed quiet; too afraid to get to know the unknown.

Fourteen, I felt a permanent mask on my face,
My boyfriend at the time asked, “What is your case?”
His words hit me like a hurricane — “You’re f**cking bipolar,”
He ended us with, “Call me when you start acting sober.”

Fifteen, I was a constant symphony,
The aura of my mask was consuming me,
I was now afraid to love – or rather hurt another,
Started feeling like a bad influence to my ten year old brother.

Sixteen, my mother begged me to stop rebelling,
But not even what she said was compelling.
When the mask was on, no one else mattered,
And this lifestyle of mine left my family shattered.
Seventeen, high school graduation was around the corner,

Surrounded by friends and family, I still felt like a loner.
During a visit, my doctor read me out my file,
Say hello to my new friend – Denial.

Eighteen, the college workload got the best of me,
Unable to handle it – I said goodbye to my degree.
I moved back into my house and got involved with bad company,
Literally tumbling downhill, I came home drunk at three.

Nineteen, I decided to seek out for help,
Realized I had a passion for cooking while scrolling through Yelp,
This gave me hope in life beyond the mask,
Left my friend Denial behind at last.

Twenty, I was inside my therapist’s office,
She encouraged me to stop counting my losses.
I started using prescribed drugs to ease my mood,
But the mask to my face is forever glued.

Twenty-one, it’s been a year of therapy,
I was now a chef and I fell in love with another freely,
Opened up to him about my disorder,
He called me crazy and said, “This is more than I can harbor.”

Twenty-two, I never realized the stigma was so strong,
It translated into my existence being wrong.
Almost made the choice to give up,
But refused to give into a society so corrupt.

Twenty-three, I finally speak up after a decade,
I surround myself with supporters – I’m no longer afraid.
Though I fight the stigma and mask everyday,
As long as I’m honest with myself, I’ll be okay.

Shreeya Tuladhar

As biology major, with a minor in writing and anthropology, I am a strong advocate of expressing science through text. My main goal is utilize this platform to not only demonstrate that mental diseases do not deserve such stigma, but to also gear the world towards viewing them in a positive light. The Humanology Project is a revolution that I plan to further engage the global audience in. Being a patient care volunteer for the past five years at The Elmhurst Hospital Center and interning with North Shore LIJ Health Systems at various departments, I have come to the understanding that illnesses do not take away a person’s identity. Each person has their own story and to generalize a population with a negative connotation simply because they share a disorder is something that definitely needs to change. Other than fighting for the causes I believe in, I am happiest while I am giving back to the community, experiencing new food/places/things, or dancing like there’s no tomorrow!

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