As a person with mental health challenges, I claim the right to be considered equal. I may be different, but I am equal. Equal under God, the same as everyone else.

Many have accepted people with problems like mine, making us part of their church and community. But this doesn’t mean we’re necessarily counted as equals. We are still discriminated against in ways most people don’t consider.

Supporters are told they should have boundaries when they deal with us. “Protect yourself,” they’re told. And we who need the support are left wondering what happened when the coffee time we used to enjoy is stopped. “What did I do?” they ask. But nobody answers. The supporter’s personal needs are not explained.

Why don’t people talk with us as they do with others? Maybe it’s because they don’t consider us as they do others.

If we could only be honest with each other. But is that possible without one getting hurt? Maybe we should take that risk. We must—openly and from the heart, and with the greatest kindness we can bring to the situation—tell each other how we feel.

As equals under God, we must learn to understand each other. And we must—preferably together—search for ways to create boundaries that will work for both of us.