Meet Faris Khalifa, a writer and a guitar player from Liverpool, England. Like most of us, he likes video games, movies and meeting new people.
But Khalifa has a secret, something he doesn't share with everyone for fear of being discriminated against.
Khalifa says he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), severe depression and generalized anxiety disorder in 2003.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness says that one in four adults in the United States experience some form of mental illness annually. But there are still a lot of misconceptions surrounding mental illnesses and their treatment.
So here's the truth: Mental illness is a medical condition that, like many others, can be treated over time, even if the process is often long and painstaking.
Khalifa says his doctors tried everything, but the treatment wasn't working.
He says he ended up losing a lot of weight, and had trouble doing basic things like sleeping and walking.
His illness also took the things that were most precious to him away.
"Mental illness cost me my friends, my girlfriend, my appearance and, just when I thought I had nothing, it came and took that away too. Mental illness is like a devil riding your back -- it gets heavier each day and so does your heart," Khalifa told A+ in an email.
Gathering the courage to share his story openly with others was a understandable challenge.
According to an article published in the journal World Psychiatry, the misconceptions about mental illness are many: "people with mental illness are homicidal maniacs... have childlike perceptions of the world... are responsible for their illness because they have weak character."
The article further indicates the forms of discrimination people use towards their peers suffering from mental disorder:
"Fear and exclusion: persons with severe mental illness should be feared and, therefore, be kept out of most communities;
Authoritarianism: persons with severe mental illness are irresponsible, so life decisions should be made by others;
Benevolence: persons with severe mental illness are childlike and need to be cared for."
Watch Khalifa open up about his heartbreaking experience in this video, and how his life changed for the better once he started talking.
Khalifa says going public about his illness was the bravest thing he's ever done and, consequently, the most liberating one. Since he posted his video on YouTube, he has received many messages of support, some of them from people dealing with the exact same thing.
"The whole world saw me at my worst. It was a chance I took and it paid off in a way I could never imagine. The best I could of hoped for was a kind ear, but what I didn't expect what thousands of people standing up and not only saying 'we're with you' but also 'me too,'" Khalifa told A+.
He added that he's grateful for the support he got from his friends, and gives a piece of advice for those who might know someone who needs help.
"Help and support comes from being there. Don't try to understand what the other person is going through, that's almost impossible. Instead, listen. Remind them that they're not alone, that no matter how strange ands disfigured their demons might be, to not turn away and be there for them," Faris told A+.
"Instead of hiding my mental health problems, I wear them as armor. A proof, that I had a story and proof that I am still fighting."
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