Infrequently Asked Questions
There are so many things we don’t talk about when it comes to mental health. We don’t talk about it, even though much of our fear of it comes from not knowing what to expect. So here are just a few questions I wish I’d known to ask, and that I wish someone had given me the answers to when I was alone in the dark. Questions I have never had the courage to ask out loud.
Am I being dramatic?
No, you’re not being dramatic. Depression can be caused by a flawed perspective, which is why therapies like CBT can be effective. But even if that is the case, you aren’t just dramatic. That’s flippant and devalues your feelings. The world isn’t perfect, but people like to pretend that it is.
Am I weak?
No, you’re not weak. Being able to feel so deeply cannot possibly be a weakness. Even when depression tricks you into believing you cannot feel anything. Someone said that depression is a sign of being too strong for too long, and they’re not wrong. For me, caring too much when no one else seems to is one of the biggest triggers.
“No one realizes how strong someone with depression has to be just to do daily stuff like shower, brush hair or get out of bed.”Healthyplace.com
We like to feel special, and unique. But it’s important to remember that you really aren’t alone in this. Mental illness is not a personal failure. More people battle with this in some form or another than you would think. Society as a whole brushes things it finds uncomfortable under a rug. It’s human nature to hide from the things we don’t want to face. Things we don’t want to accept about ourselves. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t there. When everyone else acts like things are going so well, it’s all too easy to believe them. If more people stepped forward and told the world they battle mental illness, the world wouldn’t be such a lonely place.
“Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not; and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad.”Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Will [treatment/medicine] fix me?
Guess what, you’re not broken. Suffering and feeling doesn’t make you broken. If someone takes away your shine and you feel like you’ll never get it back, you are still not broken. There is no right or wrong way to be. You are allowed to hurt. No one is 100% happy 100% of the time. If they were, it would lose it’s meaning. It is OK to cry.
No one can break you; you’re not a toy. Even when you feel like you’ve been shattered into a million tiny pieces. Even when you’re battered and bruised and don’t know how to get out of bed anymore. No one can “fix” you because there isn’t anything wrong with you.
Treatment and prescribed medication can definitely help, but don’t think of yourself as in need of fixing. Everything you’re feeling is valid, and it’s a part of the long and winding journey you’re on.
“There are wounds that never show on the body that are deeper and more hurtful than anything that bleeds.”Laurell K. Hamilton, Mistral’s Kiss
Why can’t I just be normal?
Who says you aren’t? What is normal anyway? Does anyone really know? What if the purple I see would be yellow to you? We weren’t made to be the same, so why do we have a concept of “normal”?
I didn’t even realise I had depression for several years, despite the very obvious signs, because I wasn’t self harming. At least, not in the traditional sense. I thought that was what depression was. That’s the problem with “normal”. If you think you know how something is supposed to look, you won’t recognise it in any other form. I locked myself in my room, didn’t socialise even with my family. I didn’t leave the house for weeks on end. I thought for a long time that I didn’t even have emotions because most of the time I was just…empty. Numb.
Yet, it didn’t occur that something was wrong because I never cut myself. That was the bar I set for what mental illness looked like. I didn’t know that it meant being overloaded with feeling until you’re numb. Feeling so full that you’re just empty. I didn’t know that I could have PTSD without ever having gone to war.
“When you’re lost in those woods, it sometimes takes you a while to realize that you are lost. For the longest time, you can convince yourself that you’ve just wandered off the path, that you’ll find your way back to the trailhead any moment now. Then night falls again and again, and you still have no idea where you are, and it’s time to admit that you have bewildered yourself so far off the path that you don’t even know from which direction the sun rises anymore.”Elizabeth Gilbert
When I had chest pains and palpitations for the first time, I thought I was having a heart attack. When I couldn’t breathe and my chest felt like it was closing in on itself, I thought it was just my asthma. When the world span around me, I didn’t know what to think.
I had no idea that a panic attack could feel like that. That it could hurt that much.
The biggest issue we face with mental illness is awareness. We need to make mental illness the new “normal” because fear and ignorance are our greatest enemies.
Where can I get help?
If you are struggling with mental illness, or know someone who is, there are a few links below for UK based viewers.
- The Mental Health Foundation take a public mental health approach to prevention.
- The Samaritans offer emotional support 24 hours a day – in full confidence. Call 116 123 (UK) – it’s FREE or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Shout can help if you’re experiencing a personal crisis, are unable to cope and need support. Text Shout to 85258 (UK), available 24/7.
If you know of any local support groups in your own areas, please do comment below.
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