People will often say to me:
“It’s nice to see you all better now”
“I’m so glad you’re over all that.”
“When you HAD depression ….”
It’s like it was a small blip in life that has disappeared and doesn’t need to be discussed again.
Mental illness doesn’t just disappear. Yes a lot of them are treatable but not all of them. Also the emotions and memories attached to having suffered will most likely follow you around forever.
Most of my mental illnesses have been with me since a young age. I am 30 now and still suffering. Yes I am managing them better but it’s hard work. Some days are easier than others. Some days pass with out much of a problem but it’s the other days that creep up on you without warning that cause you to keep pushing, keeping working and keep fighting. Leaving you mentally, emotionally and physically exhausted.
This is what people don’t see. People don’t see the inner pain. They don’t see you fighting back tears, anger, dangerous urges. and because they can’t see it, it can’t be there and can’t be happening – right?
Wrong! So so wrong!
I describe my depression and mental illnesses as my Demon. He sits on my shoulder, forever a presence in my life. He is there every single day. Some days he is small and more relaxed but others days and weeks he is huge. He is heavy, he is dark, he is all consuming! He reminds me of all the horrible things that have happened in my life, and all the mistakes I have made. Telling me I am an awful person who deserves nothing. No matter what is happening he will convince me of the absolute worst.
It is not as simple as just shaking him off and simply ignoring him (advice I have been given by others!) he has a firm hold on me and will only shrink when HE is ready.
I think this is something that most people do struggle to understand. Just because I am perhaps better than I was a few years ago does not mean I am cured! Far from it. If anything I feel that sometimes this is when I am most vulnerable. People aren’t ‘keeping an eye on me’ nobody asks how I am feeling anymore. If I need help because I am feeling overwhelmed or exhausted people just aren’t there anymore. This also makes me feel like I should be better by now. Everyone expects and believes me to be better, so I should be! Again this is a very dangerous place to be and will almost certainly lead to me regressing and maybe even having another break down. I have seen it happen, to myself and others too.
We need to talk to people who have suffered with their mental health. Keep texting and calling. Keep checking in. Be there for them – emotionally or physically. Let them know you have not forgotten them.
If you love and care for someone then this shouldn’t be a hardship. You should want to see them recovering and feeling like they are wanted and loved.
I completely understand that we are very busy people with very busy lives. I get that completely but how long does it take to send a text?
I believe that some – maybe most – people just do not understand these things about mental illnesses which is why they aren’t doing the things necessary so I don’t blame them. This is why I am writing about these difficult things. I feel like I have a responsibility to share what I can about mental health issues and as a sufferer sharing what helps us and what doesn’t.
Please take care of yourself and others.
Lots of love