Just a warning there is some harsh language below but I have to tell my story.
Mental Illness affects 1 in 4 people in their lifetime, that’s a sentence I’ve heard since I started my mental health journey after being diagnosed with depression back in 2004, I was just one of the unlucky few and that’s all anyone said for the longest time. I was at a crossroads in my life at the time, I couldn’t even talk about the rape I endured, and I just happened to be unlucky.
The more I learned about Mental Illness the more I became to understand myself, the obsession that keeps me up all night thinking about that one time I said the wrong thing, the pit of nothingness I felt all became clear. But other people haven’t quite been able to handle the fact that I have Depression, Anxiety, and PTSD (actually might be c-PTSD due to multiple acts of trauma but I’ve not been diagnosed yet), and today I am going to talk about it.
Back in 2008, the doctors knew I had depression, what they couldn’t quite figure out was that I also had anxiety, and for about a year they actually thought I was bipolar. This was the age of the internet, everyone shared everything on Facebook because we didn’t quite know the rules yet, I was extremely open about my journey, and a friend from university just turned on me one day; let’s call her Janet.
Janet called me, “A fucking crazy bitch,” and when I tried to calm her down she said, “No one gives a shit about the pathetic lithium you dick.” That really made me sad, no it made me feel like crap, isolated when 75% of people just don’t understand. I can now understand why I don’t share very much online, I am getting better at it, but she really did hurt me and my recovery.
This time I’m going to talk about my Dad, he has Depression and Anxiety, you’d expect him to understand being the 1 in 4 right? Wrong! Every time I went to the doctor about my Mental Illness, throughout all the stages of my illness, Depression>Bipolar>Depression and Anxiety>Depression, Anxiety, PTSD, my Dad has always said, “What have you got to be Anxious/Depressed about?”
I can’t even make this stuff up, I got angry every time he said it, but then I realised, he just reacts to Mental Illness the way most people have because this is a question we as a society have been taught to ask. Maybe its years of hearing it himself, his generation never spoke about it, and if they told close family members about it this would have been their reaction.
The next reaction is meant well, let’s call this person Judy (although I’ve heard this a lot from a multitude of people), now Judy made the mistake that many people do, and that’s assuming that I can control my emotions. This one really does grate me when I hear it but most people will probably say it. Judy said, “Its all about your mentality if you think positive you’ll be positive.”
Sorry Judy but mental illness doesn’t work that way, I can’t just pretend to be positive, I literally have no control over my mental illness. I can do yoga, controlled breathing, body relaxation, and still have an anxiety attack from a gust of wind. No positive mental attitude can help me, I have a chronic illness that requires work.
I really have a lot of examples I could use, and this post is already full of rants. Maybe I should turn it into a weekly piece, if you’d like to hear more about the reactions my family and friends had to my mental illness then comment below.