I’m a talkative person…outgoing, goofy, and weird. I’m a very open person if I feel comfortable, I always like to have fun, and be as positive as possible. From an outside view, you would probably never guess that a few months ago I was admitted to the psychiatric unit of a hospital; because psych units are for “crazy people” right? My social media accounts look like I’m having a good time, I was always chatty and “happy”, and the day before I was out to dinner and a movie with my then boyfriend…I seemed fine to everyone in my life. Even the people closest to me had no clue. The reality is that I’m really good at hiding how I’m feeling. Social media is a positive projection of my life, and no one wants to be around a negative “dramatic debbie” all the time so I kept most things to myself. It’s not that I was fake or disingenuous; I just didn’t want to project a bunch of negativity onto those around me. I have never been ashamed of talking about mental illness and my personal experience, but when it gets really bad…it’s really hard to discuss.
There are so many stigmas with mental illness, and no matter how understanding people may say they are…in my experience, they still don’t get it. “I’m so depressed” & “I’m anxious” are so commonly used that people assume you are being dramatic and think that depression is sadness & anxiety is just being worried. It is so much more complex than that. Depression for me is a constant feeling of hopelessness; I lose interest in everything, I have no energy, I can’t sleep, I feel stressed, I’m irritable, and concentrating on anything is a joke. My anxiety makes me feel completely crazy & exhausted. I get so stressed that I make myself sick and break out in hives. It’s like I have two sides: my rational one & (a much more powerful) irrational anxious side. All the things I should know are completely pushed aside because I overanalyze everything. My anxiety is also a real buzz kill…it tells me I’m fat, annoying, dramatic, that no one likes me, and that everything I know is a lie; to name a few. It forces me to constantly seek validation & reassurance. I don’t feel like me…whoever that is. My intention is not to receive sympathy or to say that if you don’t feel exactly like this; your mental illness isn’t valid. I’m telling you what it’s like if mental illness is a foreign concept to you, and if you do get it…that you aren’t alone.
Mental Illness looks different on everyone, and maybe because I look okay on the outside, doesn’t mean I am on the inside. There are so many mental illnesses out there; these are just the ones I deal with. The reality is that there are TONS of people suffering silently with depression & anxiety; functioning in society. I function because I must. I think anyone who relates, understands this…Getting better is a constant struggle & it isn’t something you can do alone. Due to stigmas, people don’t feel that they can or should get help because it is so dismissed in our society. We need to break these stigmas and face the facts.
Mental illness is real. You are not alone. It’s okay.