The truth: Living with a mental illness.
I’ve written this post time and time again but never actually posted it because I never felt ready to open up to everyone who reads my blog. But after spending a bit of time by myself I think I’m ready to sit and down and write this post again and share this with you… I’m normally really open with you guys and I have written about my personal life struggles in the past, but there is a big part of my personality and life that I struggle to talk about; depression and anxiety. After writing this I realised how much I really had to let out, this is an incredibly chatty post, so I do apologise, but I guess it’s an excuse to make a cup of tea and grab a couple of biscuits!
One in four people suffer from some sort of mental health problem in their lifetime yet we don’t talk about it. Part of that is the shame and embarrassment that runs alongside having a mental illness, however this stigma which makes most people keep their illness hidden as a shameful secret only makes it hard to suffer in silence. Even now I a little scared to press the publish button because of what people might think. The more I’ve been open about what I am going through the more I’ve realise just how common these problems are.
It’s understandable that not everybody understands what having a mental illness can entail, In fact, I’m sure more people don’t understand than do. Even some of the people closest to me, struggle to understand exactly how depression and anxiety affects me, my life, and the way I am, even after hours of explaining. Unless someone has suffered from a mental illness themselves, they will never truly know how it feels.
I’ve been on multiple trips to the doctors, to always be turned away, and told that it was just hormones and I am just a typical teenager.
One of the first times I knew that I was suffering with a mental health condition and it was a little bit more than just a teenage hormonal phase, was when I was at one of my friends parties a couple of years ago, and I was having a good time, and I remember laughing and there was someone in my head that was saying ‘you don’t deserve to be happy’ ‘why are you laughing? You should be sad’ I will always remember this feeling, it’s almost as if I could see myself laughing but I wasn’t happy, like someone else was controlling how I was on the outside compared to how I felt in the inside. I remember feeling really drained, like being happy was emotionally exhausting. I started to feel like this more often with the social events that I went too.
Anxiety wise, I struggle the most with social anxiety; my earliest memory of this was back in primary school, when I was walking into my classroom after lunch, and I was walking in front of this girl that I didn’t get on with, and she just burst out laughing and I automatically was thinking ‘why is she laughing at me’ ‘have I got something on my back?’ ‘what’s wrong with my hair?’ Even though this was over 7 years ago, and I was about 11, this memory still haunts me. Even now, I’m nearly 19, and if someone laughs behind me, or near me, I automatically have that dread that they are laughing at or about me, this has made me recently feel embarrassed over the smallest things, which can lead to constant blushing or sweating…attractive I know.
I really wish more people understood social anxiety and how it can make people feel in certain situations, so many people suffer in so many different ways, for me one of my biggest dreads is talking to people that I don’t know because I dread being judged and doing something wrong; if I go to pay for something (which is VERY rare) I check my money over and over again in the queue to make sure I have enough money, even though I might clearly have more than enough to cover the cost.
I love shopping with my girls, I recently went to Bicester Village with one of my closest friends, and I’m not going to lie I hated every second of it. I mean it’s probably known for being extremely busy, but I actually forgot how bad it was. I felt on edge the whole time I was there, not because I was scared I was going to get robbed or I didn’t want to be with my friend, but because it was so busy, so many people to judge me, so many people who looked so much better than I did. It’s like no one was looking at me but I felt like everyone was staring. I did actually buy myself some underwear in Calvin Klein which I was impressed with because normally I’d never buy anything because I hate the whole queuing then paying process, like what if my card declines? What if she judges me for the size I am? What if I forget my pin number? With anxiety, a simple task for one can become a milestone for another.
Even though I’ve suffered like this for what feels like a lifetime, time and time again ill commit to social events, in hope that one day I’ll go and feel ‘normal’ and actually enjoy myself. I try to put on a brave face and pretend that I am enjoying myself, when in reality I am just praying the ground would just swallow me up. The most frustrating thing for me to understand is that this sort of feeling probably will take a while for me to learn to control it. I don’t think people around me really understand, and to be honest I probably didn’t/still don’t explain it well enough, because how can you explain something if you don’t understand it yourself? I used to get invited out a lot, by a lot of different groups of friends, and it got to the point where I’d make plans and not carry them out because I was too scared I would feel so down about myself because I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t ‘allowed’ to enjoy myself like everyone else could. Gradually I got invited to less things until I basically didn’t get invited to anything, which I don’t blame anyone because I’d either not turn up or be no fun when I was out, which was probably one of the worst things that has happened to me because I automatically think that they didn’t like me, or didn’t want to be friends with me. This is still happening, and the same thoughts constantly rush through my head. I am missing out on stuff because of something that I can’t control and I hate it.
Depression for anyone that suffers with it is horrible, I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. Trying to describe how I feel when I don’t even know what’s going on is impossible. My councillor once gave me a timeline, 1 being really low and 10 being really happy. For most people they are at 5/6 most days, my good days are at 2/3.. I very rarely get to a 5/10. It’s like your in a bad mood for days, weeks, sometimes even months, and you can’t shake it off or snap out of it.
This is why I haven’t blogged in months, I mean I could lie and say it’s because I’ve started a new job and I have no free time, but the truth is, I’ve been struggling recently and I’ve become so cut off and so emotionless to everything and everyone, I didn’t want to sit and blog because I didn’t care about it, I had no passion for it, I just had lost interest in the whole thing. I use to love blogging and I hoping that now I will slowly be able to get back into blogging and re-find my love for it.
I have had a couple of days where I have felt like a -10 and those times are almost unbearable. Those are the days when I wake up and wish I could fall back to sleep because sleeping is far better than living a life, which for me is hell. I still don’t think I am comfortable to talk about what happens when I feel so low to all of you, but maybe one day this will change.
Most people don’t realise that anxiety and depression run alongside each other. Anxiety can destroy your confidence and self-esteem, which makes you feel low and drained, this can cause any levels of hope and motivation to be shattered. Even today I had times when I thought people were judging me. How people probably talk about me, how annoying I am for not talking to them, or being off with them when I’m going through a bad day, people then start to think I’m making it up or I’m just using this an excuse to get out of something, trust me I am not. This makes me think that I am actually ruining other people’s lives and that I’m not a good person to be friends with.
I always turn things down, not because I don’t want to do things, but because I find them impossible. I’m too scared to put myself in a position to feel so conscious I can’t even talk to my own friends.
Why me? Why can’t I just be a normal 18 year old?