How we react to physical illness vs mental illness courtesy of Buzzfeed (actually a really great article everyone should read)
- No one wants to hear this again
- Everyone will think I'm looking for attention
- Everyone will think it's just another sob story
- Everyone will think I'm being dramatic
- No one wants to talk about this
So I think the fact that these are the thoughts I have are the very reason I'm going to go against all of them and do it anyway. Because if you have any of these thoughts when someone talks about their mental illness or if you feel this way talking about yours...maybe the more we do it the better it will be? I don't really know. I don't think anyone does.
There's this really nasty side effect of anxiety that no one talks about. I've never even talked about it before but it's hit me like a freight train for the last few days and I want to talk about it.
I don't know why it seems easier to talk about anxiety for me than depression. Maybe it's because I've never actually been diagnosed with depression. BUT here's the nasty thing....severe generalized anxiety disorder and depression hold hands with each other. This was recently explained to me by my doctor and finally gave an answer to a lot of questions I've had. Let me start by trying to explain my anxiety a little bit better. You know how we all learned about flight or fight response? The way our body reacts to perceived threat? Heart racing, scared, feeling like you can't breathe a little bit, palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy....(sorry I had to). In all seriousness....we've all felt the effects of the fight or flight response. It's not the greatest feeling. Now imagine feeling that way constantly. As in 24 hours a day. I'm not exaggerating when I say that is how I feel. Always. I do not have a single moment of any day where my heart isn't racing and I'm not anxious about something. And it's been that way since I was 12 years old. It wasn't until my doctor told me that's not normal for me to even think it's not because it's my normal. I actually don't really think about it that often unless someone asks me. I guess it's not an ideal way to live but it's been the way I've been living for so long that maybe I'm accustomed to it? So naturally in situations where anyone would be stressed or nervous....my level of stressed/nervous increases even more. Where my baseline is already "fight or flight"....adding onto that is a lot. That's usually when I have a panic attack...but not always. I don't usually know why I'm having a panic attack and I can't usually pin point a trigger. I'm telling you...it's really frustrating. Especially when people ask me "well what are you stressed about?".....um....I don't know because I feel this way every day?
Then comes the depression. And there is a very straight forward and medical answer to why. Because my body is constantly trying to fight off threats (because my mind perceives everything to be a threat) at some point it just can't handle it anymore. And it starts to shut down. Oh hi depression....welcome.
And this is where I've been the last few days. Struggling to get out of bed. Feeling completely exhausted and not caring about anything at all. I know it's just my body's way of coping. Of giving itself rest because it physically can't handle it anymore. That doesn't make it easier. I don't like telling people about this. I don't like talking about it because it makes me feel like a freak. It makes me feel like everyone will judge me for it or that I should be strong enough to just get over it. You just push through it right? Do it anyway even though it's hard. Trust me....I would like nothing more. But when your body has actually literally shut down.....you just can't. I don't know how people with actual constant depression handle it. I would like to to say now that you are some of the strongest people I can imagine. Because this is very very hard...and it only happens to me for a few days every month or 2.
So why am I talking about this? I don't know to be honest. Maybe it makes me feel a little better. I'm an honest person and I think we should talk about things. Especially the hard things. When it comes to mental illness a lot of people want to say that we need to treat it better. We need to provide more help to these people...but then we don't really want to talk about mental illness either because it's someone else's problem. And that's not how any problems are going to get solved. There's still so much stigma attached to any mental illness. I guess if me sharing my experiences helps there to be less of a stigma at all...then I'm all for it.
Because in spite of the depression and the constant anxiety....I'm still me. I still love sloths, Jurassic Park movies, quoting Taylor Swift lyrics to annoy everyone around me, loud music, crime shows, and laughing so hard it physically hurts.
Because any person who struggles with any sort of mental illness is still a person. Still trying their hardest and just wants to be loved and accepted like everyone else. And usually these people worry more about not being loved and accepted because there is something "wrong" with them. Maybe that's just me but I can imagine it's a little more universal than that. So all I'm saying is...let's take care of each other as best we can. Try not to judge before you love. And let's just help each other get through all the "stuff" good and bad together.