12/22/2015

mental health & faking it...


Mentally ill people should kill themselves.

The mentally ill should be sterilised.

They don't deserve love.

They're making it up.

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These things, along with the idea that someone with depression can just be happy are ludicrous, heart breaking and confusing. Most of all, for me, they are damaging to my healing. I don't need to hear these things. But I do. I'm sure we all do.

You might know somebody who is mentally ill. You might know me. Perhaps you think we're faking it. Trust me, we're not. If I could choose a life free of ptsd flashes when it rains, anxiety attacks at work, the blindness of a panic attack or the crippling sadness of depression I would. If I could click my fingers I would.

When we say we can't help it we mean it. We are trying hard enough.

"Hard enough" for me means taking my medication even if it is incredibly disheartening to be told I need to up my dosage. It means therapy. It means not slitting my wrists when my brain tells me to.

I spend hours trying to fall asleep. I try to quieten my brain. I want it to stop. If I could make it I would.

Caring about someone with mental illness is hard. I know that. We don't need you to know and be everything. We just need you to try. We don't need to be coddled. Tell us the truth. We still deserve to be treated like everyone else. But, yes, we have an illness. So, just like you wouldn't expect someone who can't walk to just move their legs, sometimes you need to understand that we can't just get out of bed. We can't just not come crumbling down when it rains. We can't be okay in social situations.

We try but we can't always win. We can't control our brain and what it tells us. On good days we can overpower it or choose to ignore it. Most times that voice is still there, gnawing away at our brain, screaming you are unworthy, die. On bad days we need to retire to our safe place and just be. We need to surround ourselves with those we really trust. These people have seen us smacking our heads and screaming in frustration. These people really know us. We trust them.

You may not get that. That's fine. Sometimes we need to disappear for a while and maybe we seem selfish or like we don't care. We do. We probably care too much. We're staying away because we don't want you to see us like this. My Husband is the only one who has seen me at my lowest. He signed on for this, he promised this. Others did not.

When life gets tough we may seem like hermits for months at a time. It has nothing to do with you. Sure, it can't be nice to feel tossed to the side. I get that. We wouldn't toss if we didn't have to. We can't be surrounded by people. We need one, if any. Sometimes we need complete silence and darkness. Sometimes it hurts to even be with ourselves.

This is not something we chose. We're sick just like anyone else. We need support just like anyone else. We are not crazy. Being mentally ill does not automatically mean we are going to hurt someone else {in fact, I could think of nothing worse}. Being talked badly about makes us want to shrink further into our shells. We've built up a wall, hundreds of walls, and instead of taking the time to knock them down you give up at the first sign of perceived rudeness. You say things about us that ultimately return to our ears and it stings. It makes us less likely to trust you when you realise you've been faking concern/worry/love this whole time.

We need people who are nice and understanding just like we are of you. We need you to be aware that sometimes we don't look at our phones for days on end and sometimes our body aches so badly that we shuffle through life in a smokey haze.

We are just like you except we have mental illness. Don't make us feel bad about it. We already do. We are trying to get better. We are trying to beat this. But sometimes, for some people, it stays and it just becomes something you have to live with and we have to adjust. If you want us in your life you need to adjust too. If you can't handle it that's your prerogative.

We don't need to be lied about, bitched about, snickered at. We don't need your pity. We don't need your gossip that's thinly veiled as concern. We just want to be treated normally because we are normal. But we also need you to keep this in mind, all of it. Just like you'd not shove a cat in front of someone who was allergic. Just like you'd not force an alcoholic to drink. Just like you'd not get mad at someone with chronic illness for being somewhat absent.

We're just like you. We're also sick.

& if you can't support us properly, with care and with love, then stop pretending. Tell us. Leave us. It will hurt and it will suck but in the long run it's far better than finding out someone you confided in, someone you thought cared, has been insulting you and your mental health behind your back.

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Mental health support obviously needs a huge overhaul in more ways than one.

But, hey, wouldn't it be wonderful if everyone thought it was real, that we weren't making it up, that this was a serious thing?

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