Today is World Mental Health Day and the last day of Mental Illness Awareness Week, so I felt that I should post something on my blog since mental Illness and Mental Health is the main topic of most of my posts, and also because it has been almost a month since I’ve posted anything.
I started writing something yesterday, but kept getting distracted. Then later in the evening, I was too tired. This morning, I slept until 11:45, something I haven’t done in several weeks. Then I spend the majority of what was left of the day to try and get my damn post finished, but I was constantly losing my concentration, and what I was writing was getting rambly and I was beginning to lose sense of what I wanted to say to begin with. So I scrapped it, and started over. Then I scrapped that as well and now here we are.
Let’s be honest. The reason I’ve been struggling so much with this, is because I’ve been struggling, overall, for the past little while.
There is no on/off switch for mental illness. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. There is no quick/easy fix. Treatment and recovery of mental illness is not as linear as we’d all like to believe or wish it was.
It’s up and down. Small steps forward met with giant leaps back. It is a lot of serious, hard work, but it is possible. Although I have not yet gotten there, I know that I can, even though sometimes I feel like giving up.
Right now, I am in the midst of one of those giant leaps backwards. Over the past few months, I was dealing with a situation that caused me more stress than I ever could have expected. My stress was met with overwhelming hurt and betrayal, and ultimately led to feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness.
Although most of that has subsided, I am still hit unexpectedly with reminders of how the situation made me feel.
More recently, there was a happy event happening that, even though I knew it was coming, snuck up on me and triggered really strong feelings that on the surface could be misconstrued as jealousy, but in truth it made me feel like I am never going to be happy with my life. It made me feel lonely, even though I was surrounded by people. The overwhelming hopelessness of it all also brought back the thoughts of suicide I hadn’t experienced in over a month. I went for several weeks without crying, at all, even when I felt like I wanted to, my body just wouldn’t let me, but I have cried at least once, every single day for the past 9 days. I’ve found myself not laughing at things I usually laugh at. I don’t want to do anything except lie in bed and be completely alone.
For someone on the outside, all of this will seem completely irrational, and you’d be right. It is irrational. But for someone with depression and anxiety, this is a daily battle. Our minds will try to convince us that we are shit. Even though, deep down, we know it’s not true, when all those thoughts and feelings are right there, and are always the first thing that pops into your head, it becomes very difficult to fight those feelings and remind yourself of the rational things, that the illness is lying to you.
This is the problem with society’s perspective on mental illness. They think that we can just turn our depression or anxiety off whenever we want, or that we’re just doing it for attention. The person who pretends to be happy on the outside while suffering silently on the inside with and wants to die because they feel like their life is completely hopeless and they will never be happy, they’re depressed for attention? Really? No one knows that they are depressed, and yet society says they’re doing it for attention. Yeah, that makes sense.
Just like a person with cancer can’t cure themselves by telling their body not to produce cancer cells, or someone with a broken bone can’t tell their bone to not be broken; a person with depression can’t just stop being sad or feeling helpless and alone, or a person with anxiety can’t just stop worrying about things that will probably never happen. Just like any other illness, mental illnesses require treatment. And just like many illnesses, mental illnesses have a wide range of possible treatments, and it often takes some time to find the right one.
Anyways, this was probably one of the hardest posts for me to write, and although I struggled to find my purpose in writing it, the point I really wanted to get across is that we really need to make the world more aware and understanding of mental illnesses and the people who have them. We need to end the stigma!