Stëfanie Lyn is a spoken word poet, mental health activist, human rights warrior, Russian enthusiast (Putin - eh), and an excessive tea drinker. She doesn't know why there is an umlad over her name, she just remembers doing it as a child and sticking with it. Just don't ask.
After years of kicking ass and taking names (in the New York State education system), she is now a Senior at Brown University studying Medical Anthropology + Contemplative Studies. She is a pre-med dropout who is still attempting to reconcile her future doctor dreams. Stëfanie loves to write, and has posted a bunch of words here.
Stëfanie Lyn lives with Major Depressive Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and BPD - even though her doctor told her not to share the last one with anyone else unless it was an emergency. She doesn't really like hypocrisy, so here it is. The good, bad, and ugly.
Tell me about yourself.
I’ve been struggling with my mental health since I was 12. I think I’ve always been emotionally susceptible to it, being a very empathetic and observant child. I always felt everything more, harder, and longer, for as long as I remember.
What type of reactions are not easy for you to hear?
A lot of times I don’t receive them personally, but will hear them through causal conversation, or discussing others in private. I find that usually people are nice enough to my face, but will use my ‘diagnosis’ against me at some later form of our friendship/relationship, because I will inevitably do something that is seen as less-than-stellar.
Early on, why didn’t you share your diagnosis with others?
I never dreamed of a day where anybody who wanted to would know some of the hardest, most personal information about me. But it is through my grand gestures, my overexposure, that I feel safest. Nobody can harm me if I chose to put myself out there, if I use my experiences for good. If I am honest about the fucking hell I live through, maybe someone else can find their peace. I have to believe that.
What reactions do you appreciate when you share with someone that you live with a mental illness?
I appreciate hearing funny things like, “Oh my god, that makes so much sense!” – but now that I’m thinking about it, only from people who like, I really trust, and who know and love me. Mostly, I just want some validation of what I go through. Don’t minimize, don’t question (too intensely), and don’t pressure me to get help or try yoga. Just be there. Listen. Go with your gut.
What do you feel are some of the misperceptions around mental illness?
That we all behave similarly. That we are violent. That we’re lazy. Unintelligent. Excuse-monsters. That we actually enjoy the feeling of misery and an inability to be productive. That we can actually control our emotions/behaviors if we really try hard enough. That we use our illnesses as an excuse to be assholes. That we like being assholes. We’re manipulative. Crave drugs. Can’t succeed. Less than.