In many countries all over the Arab world, the mere discussion of any mental health issue is still considered a taboo.

Even though it's common across the region, there's still a lot of stigma attached to mental illness, in addition to numerous social restrictions, misconceptions and myths.

These factors often discourage those affected from seeking necessary treatment. 

We spoke to a few people who live with mental illness and asked them what they'd like society to know and understand about their struggles.

Here's what they told us:

Everyone interviewed chose to remain anonymous.

1. The fear of judgement

"Living with depression is not only exhausting, it's terrifying. There are times when I cry all night, and then pretend that everything is OK in the morning, because I fear judgement. I worry about what my colleagues, friends and even my extended family would think if I ever broke down in front of them."

2. On isolation

"Mental illness is debilitating in all its forms. Most of the time I feel like I am all alone, trapped in an endless vicious cycle, unable to get the help I need because I have no one to support me. I honestly want people to know that when it comes to this struggle, ignorance further isolates so many people who desperately need help."

3. On stigma

"After suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) for almost a year, I just felt like I couldn't go on any longer, not even for a day. Even though I was struggling, I hesitated to see a psychiatrist at first because my family refers to people seeking psychological treatment as 'insane' or 'crazy.' Unfortunately, I now know for sure that this primitive rhetoric still exists. But I also know that seeking treatment does not make me insane, and I wish society would understand that too."

4. On misconceptions

"I wish people would understand that mental illness is not a choice. I've lived with severe anxiety my entire life and if I could count the amount of times people have asked me 'why I was doing this to myself,'  you'd be shocked."

5. On survival

"On some days I don't even have the energy to get out of bed, but I never look at myself as someone who's suffering, I look at myself as a human being who's surviving. I wish people would understand that I am not suffering from a mental illness, I am surviving it."  

6. On labels and identity

"There's so much more to me as a human being, there's so much more than my struggle with clinical depression. I am a hardworking freelance artist, a mother, wife, daughter and friend. I refuse to be defined by my mental illness."

7. On not taking mental illness lightly

"When I had my first panic attack, I literally felt like I was going to die. My heart was racing and I felt a sense of doom that I can't even explain. It was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life. So, whenever I meet anyone who takes mental illness lightly and who asks people to 'toughen up' or to 'just get over it,' I wish they would understand that mental illness is not something you can just brush aside, I can't just get over it, no one can."  

8. On what a smile can hide

"I go to work every single day, I work hard, I make friends, I laugh at everyone's jokes and I smile a lot. You'd be shocked by what a smile can hide."

9. On faith

"Throughout my struggle with mental illness, people asked me to hold on to my faith. And when that didn't help, I ended up feeling guilty. I thought that I was suffering because I wasn't spiritual enough, but I now know that mental illness has nothing to do with faith. You could be the most religious person in the world and still go through it. I wish people would know that."  

10. On understanding

"It took years for me to understand my bipolar disorder, even longer to accept it, but I never pitied myself, and I want people to know that what I need most is understanding, not pity."  

11. On strength

"I've been through nights when I thought I wouldn't make it to the next morning. I've been through periods of time when people left because I shut them out. I've been through days when I would just cry for no reason at all and lie down in bed for hours, unable to even stand up. I've been through a lot, but I am still here and I am still trying. I am stronger than you'd think."