Living with mental health issues is strange. It’s painful, lonely, sad spontaneous and even exciting!
I never knew I had mental health issues until I was diagnosed around 5 and half years ago. I knew I was different. I felt different things to other people, I would process information differently and think and act very differently to others around me at times. But I had no idea exactly what I had or what was ‘wrong’. In my teens, looking back now, it’s very evident that I had anorexia and anxiety but why it was never picked up I’m not sure. I know I have been a master at hiding symptoms for many many years so I guess that’s why.
Living with mental health issues is very different for everyone. Someone could have an identical diagnosis to me but still suffer in slightly, or even very different ways. We are all different after all. I do find that immediately when people find out about my illnesses they have preconceived ideas of what I should be acting like. They think they know what I think about or even assume I should look a certain way. It is so annoying but I am not cross with people because this is exactly the problem. We haven’t spoken about mental illnesses open and honestly – ever – until the past few years so people just don’t know the reality of living with mental health issues. This is why I am very open and very honest. I think It’s vital for people to know that anorexia doesn’t always mean a stick thin teenage girl who lives off of lettuce. Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) doesn’t mean you are manipulative and a danger to others. And depression doesn’t always mean you lay in bed with the curtains drawn crying all day. Of course some of this might be present in peoples suffering but not always. There is so much more to mental illnesses.
I find some days I absolutely hate what I have to live with. The obsessive food and weight behaviours and self hatred that anorexia brings and the ‘all or nothing’, black or white thinking that BPD brings about. However, saying that I am thankful. I feel that it was obviously meant to be. I was strong enough and am strong enough to deal with it all and spread the message far and wide about mental health.
I want to live in a world where people don’t have to wear a mask. I wore one (and sadly sometimes still do) but I want that to stop. If you’re struggling, feeling down or overwhelmed I want you to be able to tell someone – anyone, with no fear of judgement. I want to live in a world where you can discuss your mental health struggles without be called “brave”!
I continue to say to people if you are struggling tell someone. Whether it’s face to face, someone you know well or an online support group. Charities are great places to start – Mind, Time to change and Beat are some I have found useful.
Living with mental health issues is different for everyone, so never assume you understand exactly what someone is going through. Just tread gently and be there if they need you. Be kind and don’t judge – it’s as simple as that.
Stay strong and stay safe. Remember to be kind always, you never know what battles people might be facing.
Love Amy x