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It’s scary, interesting and about 85% of the time, it’s incredibly confusing.
I feel like ever since I started to reconnect with my emotions it’s been this whole learning process. I’m learning how to feel again, but I’m also learning who I am, how I function and all of these brand new features. It’s…weird.
In the past week, I’ve been going through something really hard. If we flashback a year, I would no doubt be heading in a downward spiral and probably get into a anxiety attack and end up doing something self destructive to cope with the stress. But, now I’ve realised how much stronger I am and how there’s so much to me that I never knew. It also made me realise how intelligent I am that I never got to make the most out of before.
For a while I’ve been letting fear hold me back because I still think I’m this old person who was depressed. I’m still wound up in thinking that anxious, stressed and depressed are personal qualities of mine. When they’re not. They’re features of an illness. An illness that I struggled with and doesn’t define me. It’s been a learning process, but I’m learning how to let them go. I was ill that’s why I had those symptoms, they’re not qualities.
I didn’t fail my exam because I’m incompetent, lazy and not smart enough - I failed it because I was ill which made me have difficulty concentrating and with my memory. Now, I’m not ill.
I’m learning everyday that, that’s the past and it’s gone and never coming back. I’m also discovering these new qualities within me that I never saw before because an illness clouded them and those are the ones that define me.
Have you ever looked back at your life and realized that you legitimately dealt with depression but tried to normalize it by assuming you were just lazy or antisocial?
Friendly reminder to everyone with PTSD from childhood experiences
A part of you might feel stuck in that time of your life, and it’s totally normal and good and ok to want to indulge that. Sometimes it helps to watch Disney movies (we all do that anyway) and drink juice boxes and color and just take care of that scared little kid trapped inside you, and if anyone tells you that it’s stupid then I will throw them in a dumpster for you
If you write something about mental illnesses/disorders and the words “looking for attention” are in it, there’s a 99.999% that you’re ableist and you suck.
laying in bed unable to move isn’t beautiful.
cutting your arms and wishing you had the courage to push down isn’t beautiful.
wanting to swallow every pill that’s in your house isn’t beautiful.
not being able to sleep for three days isn’t beautiful.
stop romanticizing mental illness.
all of this is so painful, not pretty.
Reminder - nothing needs to happen to you for you to become depressed. It’s a chemical imbalance in the brain. Your life could be perfect and you could be depressed anyway, and the same tactics for managing it don’t work for everyone.
I don’t think people realize how anxious and paranoid I can get. It can get to the point where I’m convinced that all of my friends secretly don’t like me and that they only pity me. Sometimes I feel like people only talk to me because I’m depressed. I convince myself that I’m useless, boring, unfunny and a bad person. I usually believe at least one of those things at any given moment. It hurts
Here is a list of things that I can barely do and can not do due to my high anxiety:
- Go outside. (barely)
- Make friends. (barely)
- Maintain friends. (barely)
- Maintain romantic relationships. (can not)
- Talk to my own father. (barely)
- Go to the store. (barely)
- Speak on the phone. (can not)
- Text. (barely)
- Write this. (oh, hello)
- Get a job. (can not)
- Maintain a job. (can not)
- Drive. (can not)
- Think about the future without crying. (barely)
- Read certain things. (can not)
- Watch certain things. (can not)
The fact that some people don’t think that mental illnesses are real or don’t matter is astonishing. It is very real and it is very hard to function. Be happy with what you have and don’t thrust hateful opinions at others.
I do not regret my illness.
I do not wish I was neurotypical.
Yes, I hurt because of my illness. I suffer.
I also feel love, passion, desire, and joy more intensely.
The contrast between my good days and bad ones make the good days so much richer, so much more beautiful and significant.
I take medication because I am not always strong enough for the bad days, not because I want to make my illness disappear.
I do not know who I would be without the intensity in my life.
FRIENDS! If someone confides in you about their mental illness, usually they just want a hug or comforting words or the knowledge that you’ll love them even if they can’t get out of bed today. Please save your pep talks for a spelling bee or a soccer game (or just keep them to yourself, especially if you have no idea what they’re going through). If they are lucky enough to afford a therapist, their therapist is probably already helping them so much better than you ever could because they are literally trained to do exactly that. Yes, we love you and appreciate you. Yes, it’s difficult for us to understand each other. Yes, we both wish our relationships could be better. But no, it is not simply a matter of ‘being more positive about life’ or ‘not being lazy,’ and if you can understand this simple concept, it is almost better than any words of advice you could ever give. If patience was ever a necessity, it applies here, and it is your burden. Please treat us with care and respect, and we will try our hardest to return the favor.
Another way it would be nice if people would treat mental illnesses the same way we treat physical ones:
When we get acute symptoms, sometimes it’s no different than coming down with a cold or flu. It’s an “acute flare up” and that’s just gonna be part of our life, part of anyone’s life who has any chronic illness. Most days you are doing ok, but every once in awhile your symptoms flare up and you come down with acute (which means short term) symptoms. The first few times this happens, we get scared and think “Oh god, here we go again, what if I don’t get better?” But you know what makes us get better after a week? If we are allowed to self care. If we’re forced to keep faking it and acting like it’s fine, it turns from acute to chronic. Just exactly the same way a respiratory infection will turn into pneumonia if ignored and not treated.
So we probably need to take it easy, spend a few days in bed, and be comforted with things like soup, sleep and Netflix. Just like if we had an acute respiratory infection. I stand by and swear on a stack of Bibles that the “cure for the common cold” works as a cure for just about anything else. We need to be good to our bodies because our minds are hurting, and the brain is another part of the body.
What we don’t need is someone telling us to “be strong” to “not let life knock us down” to “get back in the saddle” to change our attitude, snap out of it, or think of positive things like butterflies and lollipops. Would you tell someone with the flu or Multiple Sclerosis that they are being lazy and to get the fuck out of bed? No.
So fuck everyone’s judgement. If you have a mental illness and you come down with acute symptoms presenting, then I say get your ass in bed! Take it easy for a few days! Put on those reruns of whatever show you like on Netflix, eat your comfort food, and rest that head of yours. Trust me on this, I’m a mom.
But I’ve been thinking recently how much my mental health has improved with my quality of life. Truly, money (and improved circumstances) has bought happiness for me.
To anyone who thinks you can “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” when suffering from a mental illness (or even not!), think about being cold all the time because your rented apartment is drafty and you can’t afford to turn up the heat. Think about spending 2-3 hours per day on public transit to get to your job (because you can’t afford to live downtown). Think about constantly being cramped for time and space and then try and fit exercise and healthy eating in there. Make sure you factor in a sleep deficit (see: hours spent on public transit).
My depression has steadily improved every year as my circumstances have . I’m sure there will be diminishing returns at some point (because I know rich people can suffer mental illness, too) but I just want to put that out there.
Being warm, well-rested, having access to healthy food and time to prepare it, and the luxury of time to exercise as I want is 100% a result of having more money. I don’t intend this as an “omg so blessed !!” Kinda thing but rather a reminder that fighting a mental illness is so. Much. Harder. When you haven’t had a hot meal in weeks. And I am truly blessed that I can look back at those times and see how much happier I am now .
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