Hello and welcome to my blog!
Today I want to talk a little bit about how hard it is when people don’t understand your mental illness. I’ve met people in my life who understand: either they’re going or have been through a mental illness or they are able to empathise and I’ve also met people in my life that do not understand. I don’t blame people who don’t understand mental illness and today I want to write an open letter to those who don’t to help them understand that little bit more how tricky a mental illness can be.
I know you don’t understand. I don’t understand it half of the time either. It’s a strange thing mental illness because often to those who suffer from one (in my case depression and anxiety) it doesn’t make much sense. I know I seem silly when I say I can’t get out of bed or when I’m nervous about leaving the house, but the problem with mental illness is: I can’t stop it.
It can be controlled and worked on and eventually you’ll either come out of the other side or you’ll find ways to cope and ease your illness, but right now, mine isn’t being controlled very well and I’m struggling to come out of the other side. But I’m trying. That is the one thing I want you to take away from this letter. I am trying. I’m trying so hard sometimes it works and other times it doesn’t and while I can’t control it, I want to be able to. I don’t want to spend my life scared of new places and new people. I don’t want every social event to come with a panic attack and I don’t want to be nervous when people leave me.
I think people think that when I say I have depression or anxiety that I am an attention seeker, but that can’t be further from the truth. I hate being the centre of attention so when people question me or say “that’s rubbish” it puts me in a bad place that is hard to get out of. I struggle to express my feelings to people who don’t understand and perhaps that’s why I’ve decided to write you a letter to help get my point across.
I don’t want to be treated differently. I don’t want you to treat me like I might break at any second (I worry about that, I don’t want to have to worry that you’re worrying). I want to be treated like I normally would. But sometimes I’ll need that extra hour in bed or I’ll have a day where I don’t leave the house. Treat this as normal – like “oh, she’s tired let her rest” not “oh she’s ill again.” The more normal I am treated the more normal I feel.
While you might not understand completely what I am dealing with, it’s so important for you not to tell me what I should or shouldn’t be feeling. I know how I should be feeling and when I don’t feel like that, it makes me feel worse. I just need you to smile and be kind, the chances are I’ll begin to feel the way I should once I’ve settled in.
Social occasions are so difficult. If I agree to come out with you, I trust you and I trust that you’ll protect me if something were to go wrong. If I can control my surroundings then that is better for me. If I ask to get ready at my house or if I offer my house for a party/ social gathering then please let this happen. I am comfortable in my own space and it will help me settle into the night better.
One final point: I am not my mental illness. I cannot stress this enough. I am a person who has a condition but I am not my illness. I have PCOS and I am not defined by this. I am still a strong, empowered woman who sometimes will have off days but I will still come out of it every time that little bit closer to the finish line. Each off day I have is one off day counted down and done with. I am still the crazy girl who loves a laugh and enjoys seeing my friends.
So bear with me, I’ll get there. Your patience and kindness would mean the world to me and I really hope this letter helps you to understand my mind a little bit more. Most days are a struggle and I know you’ll help me if I need you.
Well, there we go. That letter wasn’t aimed at anyone in particular, just to anyone who doesn’t quite get it. Writing this made me feel like I could express myself better and I hope that if you’re finding it hard to express your feelings to someone, you’ll consider writing a letter to your friends or families.
Until next time.