Wednesday, 17 February 2016

What mental illness feels like ...for me

Not everyone knows what it feels like to be mentally ill. And no two mentally ill people feel exactly the same.

But to me? Mental illness feels like...

... looking in the mirror and seeing the worst person in the world - and that's a secret you desperately need to hide from everyone.

... you understand the awful subtext behind everything people say - but then being told you don't. And you don't know whether people are just denying it, or it's really the truth.

... you always need to prove that you are worthy - of your job, of your friends, of your partner, of your family, of... well, existing.

... everyone in the world has your problems too, but they are just dealing with them a lot better than you are.

... you are listening to constructive criticism, but only hearing "you are shit. Like, you are really shit. I'm trying to say this as nicely as I can, so pay attention: You. Are. Shit."

... you just want to rant, and rave, and scream, and cry, and tell somebody all your problems. But then you don't want them to be burdened by your problems, or worse - to think less of you. 

... you're absolutely exhausted from being mentally ill, that even getting out of bed is a massive achievement. But of course you can't celebrate that because everyone gets out of bed every damn day.

... you know people care as such, but they don't want to hear about your petty issues. Not really.

... when you speak, you need to finish speaking as quickly as possible because everyone is just bored of what you're saying and you don't have anything of value to contribute anyway.

... people will only like you if you take medication, because the real you is not good enough.

... everyone thinks you're pretending, or "milking it".

... successes are accidents, circumstantial, easy for everyone to achieve, or not even noteworthy.

... your body is so tired at the end of the day, but your mind needs to go over every detail of the day, the week, the month, the year, every year since you born, before you can finally sleep from sheer exhaustion.

... you try so hard not to get sick, but your body just fails you. But it fails you so often that you're sure that people think you're just faking.

... you don't know if your feelings are real or if you're just "over-reacting because she's mentally ill" or "just sensitive because she has anxiety issues".

... you've told your story so many times that it's just boring to everyone - but you don't have any other story to tell.

... every problem that anybody has is your fault. And if you can't think why it's your fault, then it's because you are so selfish that you didn't even notice you were ruining someone's life.

... people are only your friend because they feel sorry for you.

... you're just waiting for your workplace to figure out you're completely incompetent, so you try really hard to not appear utterly useless.

... you've figured out what people don't like about you, so you try extra hard to not be those things - and instead come off as annoying in a different way.

... every time you're not invited somewhere it's because you are not wanted, or not really a friend. Because if you were - you'd have been asked, right?

... people only invite you to things because they feel sorry for you, or out of social obligation - so you say no so that you don't burden them with your presence.

... you are constantly on the verge of a major catastrophe, and that you need to constantly be prepared for it, but you don't know what it actually is, or when it is actually coming.

... you get that the people you love (and who truly do love you back) don't want you to die. But if you did, while it would hurt initially, eventually they would realise they are in fact better off without you in their life.

... if you don't commit suicide, then you're not that mentally ill.

I searched for an image that represented how I feel, but ultimately it was this image, from the first line of Google image search results for the words "mental illness" that spoke to me the most.
Miss SAMawdsley xx

Please note: This is not a plea for help. Ultimately, I am currently undergoing treatment on the NHS. I am technically classified as disabled, but I work full-time and lead what I like to think is a fun and productive life. This is just putting the figurative pen to paper on what being mentally ill feels like to me.

For clarity, I have been clinically diagnosed with generalised anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, depression, complex post traumatic stress disorder, and thanatophobia.

  • What does mental illness feel like to you?
  • If you've never been mentally ill, can you imagine how it might feel?

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