Let’s talk about how crippling it can be to even think about your own mental illness, never mind talking about it with others.
Let’s talk about how even in 2017, there is still SO MUCH stigma surrounding mental illness. That there are intense feelings of shame and guilt for the sufferer. Not to mention the judgement we might get from some people when they know or find out.
Let’s talk about how when you’re having an anxiety attack or spiralling downwards from depression that the feelings of loneliness and shame can be so possessing, almost insufferable; so in actuality: you want to ‘forget’ talking about them because you don’t even even want to be ‘living’ them.
Let’s talk about the fact that although you can be surrounded with loving family and friends — (for the most part) when you are mid attack or deep in depression, you are also feeling embarrassed, worthless, alone and genuinely unable to reach out.
For those who have never been ‘here’, it’s unimaginable, unthinkable. For example, they may even think “Oh, just get over it.” “Can’t you see how fortunate you are, your life is?” The truth is, deep down we are already thinking this! I myself often feel a considerable amount of guilt for my thoughts and feelings of both depression and anxiety. I catch myself thinking or even speaking aloud to myself – “Why can’t I be happy, I AM lucky!” “Why can’t I just chill out” “I’m focussing on the worst case scenario, the odds are it WON’T even happen.”
I cannot speak for others, but can assure you that I would love to “get over it.” Whatever “it” is at that present moment in time (a downward spiral, an anxiety attack). However, I am also quite aware that much as I have tried, it doesn’t work that way. Please believe me when I tell you that living in my head is not a place I enjoy being. It’s a place where I ‘sit’ on edge, in hyper-sensitive mode 24/7, where I am anxious about EVERYTHING, and likewise (self) loathing. It’s most definitely not a loving place, it’s a place of constant (self) judgement and (self) criticism, it’s a place where every thing I say and do is over analyzed. Conversations I have (or don’t) and then catastrophic thinking “oh man, did I really say that? Do they hate me, did I talk too much?” and much, much more. It is a lonely place, indeed.
When things are spiralling, I don’t want to talk to anyone, see anyone, do anything, go anywhere – I want a cloak of invisibility so I can still walk my daughter to school, get errands done, etc but without having to really ‘be’ wherever I am. And all of this is for no other reason than I begin to turn inward, shut down.
So #letstalk, let’s share our struggles and our victories. Perhaps the only thing that gets me through most of my days (aside from my wonderful husband and children) is knowing that I’m not alone in this fight, that by talking we have won this battle, but only by ending the stigma, will we win the war!