The attention seeking #WorldMentalHealth day post…
Despite it being such a big part of my life, I’ve never discussed mental health outside of my family and good friends. It gets talked about A LOT in the blogging community – perhaps because blogging is such a great creative outlet. I had a conversation recently with another blogger who I won’t name as she also didn’t discuss her mental health publicly, but we came to the same conclusion: Under the guise of raising awareness and acceptance, people promote it like a trend. I’m not about to say people should hide their mental health issues. If you feel comfortable, shout it from the roof tops. We need more acceptance and understanding of mental health problems and we need people to get treatment and not to feel stigmatised. But wearing it like a badge of honour, like it’s something that makes you cool and different, that is not the same. How many times have you heard someone say how OCD they are or how depressed or ‘schitzo’. I’ve seen so many people trying to (for want of a better word) subscribe to the trend of mental health issues. “My boyfriend broke up with me so I’m sad; I must have depression”, “I’m worried about my exams; I must have an anxiety disorder” and all the other “I have mental health problems too, please like my status” style issues are a kick in the teeth for people who do struggle with more than just the expected reactions. As my lovely blogger friend said “If you aren’t nervous for an exam, you’re doing it wrong – that means you don’t care”. We are human and we feel things, but mental illness is more than that.
I’m not trying to downplay people’s problems. Depression and the like can be triggered by breakups etc, but if after a month or so you’re magically feeling better, well that’s not depression. I’m not trying to attack anyone or make people feel bad, I’m just want people to understand depression isn’t just a bad day. So here’s my story…
From a young age I had issues with food and self-confidence. I tried my best to hide it. I had, and still do have, an overly happy and confident persona that I show the world, one that doesn’t reflect my internal struggle. I couldn’t talk to anyone. It took years before i felt brave enough to send my Mum an awfully long text in the middle of the night. She took me to the doctors and, after going back and forward for a while and being told ‘all young people felt sad sometimes’, I was prescribed my first lot of antidepressants with a diagnosis of depression and generalised anxiety disorder. The diagnosis didn’t make it easier, it just felt like another load to carry. I struggled through high school and college, feeling all the things teens normally feel. Feeling left out, lonely, tired, stressed and more are all things people tend to experience growing up but this was something else. Every little thing dragged me down further and then there would be times where I felt numb. I felt nothing at all. I wasn’t interested in anything. I was just existing. Time for new medication. I tried to keep to myself. Drinking made it worse. Nights out left me feeling so isolated, I just had to disappear. Feeling constantly like a burden, unable to focus, acting out this persona that was so detached from the things I was feeling, it’s not a great recipe for keeping friends. Time for new medication. Going to University gave me more excuses to isolate myself. I lost the majority of friends from home and couldn’t justify the excuses of why I couldn’t see them or call. I alienated my group of flatmates in first year. I struggled to look after myself or keep track of things, turning up late for lectures and then not being able to go into the lecture halls. I stopped getting out of bed, I broke up with my then boyfriend and I spent the summer alone in my rented house. Time for new medication. I met someone who understood that there wasn’t a reason I was sad, that I just was. I dropped out of University. I told people it was through glandular fever that I had suffered with the year before. It wasn’t. Time for new medication. It took me years to find something that made me start to feel human again. At this point I had learned there was no quick fix. It took months to take hold but I finally started to get my illness under control. It’s still a big part of my life. I still have periods where every little thing seems impossible, where I feel empty and alone. Luckily I have my other half who understands that sometimes I can’t face the world.
I’ve seen plenty of campaigns today that trivialise or try to justify mental illness by linking it to physically visible issues. You can’t show people what it’s like truly living with mental illness for a day because mental illness doesn’t last a day. It’s like a living thing that grows and get worse and tries to eat you up inside and you have to fight back but sometimes it just gets too much.
This is not some bullshit sponsored post with a tenuous link to some company looking to build their SEO.
Mental Illness isn’t trendy or cool, despite what Zoella’s followers may think. It destroys people and ruins lives.
This is a post I’ve wanted to write since the start of my blog, but couldn’t. This post is attention seeking because I want your damn attention. Listen and think before you call someone a psycho. Your bad day will get better. Telling me to cheer up won’t instantly flood me with happiness and you’re just going to have to deal with that.
And if you are struggling, get help. Go see your doctor, tell someone in whatever way you can, just get things moving. It will never be easy but it will get better.