I hear this story many times, the story of people having to hide on a daily basis and even to their most loved ones that they are dealing with a mental illness, and I wonder: what could possibly be more draining than that? What could possibly be more challenging than having to hide something that is killing you inside?
People with other illnesses don’t seem to experience quite the same feeling. They can just say: “I broke my leg”, without having to be exposed to social examination. In those cases, logic seems to work better: “if you broke your leg you can’t obviously run”. It sounds so obvious to everyone, right?
However, what happens if you are anxious or depressed? I mean, what happens then?
What happens when waking up feels like living at a battlefield or when you experience so much stress and panic out of nothing?
What happens when you spend days without being able to sleep or when you cry for hours every day, unable to find a reason behind it?
How is logic supposed to work then?
What are you supposed to do or act like?
You can run after all in those cases right?
Right. You may run, but nothing is or feels right.
I remember having to tell people that I had anemia so that they could understand what was going on in my life. Suddenly, that seemed like a more understandable and comprehensible reason to be “absent” from my normal life. That’s also when they actually started to care! Now I was really “sick”, not like before at all!
Before the anemia “excuse” they wouldn’t understand why was I leaving everything behind just because “I was just sad or anxious”, I mean, who is not sad or anxious sometimes right?
Back then I got plenty of the following very unpleasant comments:
“Can’t you just get over it?”
“Everyone is stressed nowadays, it will get better!”
“You shouldn’t give up just because you are not as happy as you plan to be, life is tough and you can’t expect to be happy all the time”
“You sleep so much I think you are just lazy”
“Why don’t you just exercise more?”
“I don’t know why you couldn’t sleep last night! Nothing really happened!”
“I don’t know how you can forget to eat, everyone feels hungry!”
“I’m guessing you are not working now just because you are lazy”
“You are not coming with us because you don’t feel like to, because you totally could, it’s not like you broke your leg or something”
“Don’t take things so seriously!”
“Its not a big deal”
“Just let it go…”
Maybe they sound familiar to many of you.
Maybe you have already gotten used to those comments and they don’t hurt anymore.
However, I want to fight against that. I want everyone else dealing with a mental illness to never receive those comments again because they simply don’t deserve them. Those comments are reckless and fail to value and appreciate how much battling and suffering there is behind an illness like that. They fail to honor the struggles people living with a mental illness deal with on a daily basis, and they don’t need more extra pressure and judgment.
I would like to live in a world where being mentally ill would be taken as seriously as being physically ill. I was personally dealing with something so much worse than what I had to give as an excuse only to feel understood. That is simply devastating for someone who has to endure that kind of pain everyday.
Why should we be telling the world that we are sick for another reason?
Why should we have to give other explanations to find social acceptance?
In this case, it’s society that needs to change and needs to be educated in this particular aspect, because there is so much more to depression and anxiety than what is normally told and understood by society.
If we want to grow as a society we need to know that some illnesses are invisible, and they are just as horrible as the visible ones, if not more.
Depression and Anxiety aren’t about feeling “sad or anxious” they are about being genuinely ill and unable to function.
Let’s change the conversation and let’s be honest about what those illnesses are, because there is really nothing to be ashamed of, just like with any other illness.
Repeat this in your head: “it’s like having any other visible illness”.
You can’t blame yourself for it.
Please don’t do that.
You are battling against it.
You are fighting.
You are surviving and you are growing.
You are spending time getting bigger and stronger and wiser.
Forget about “shame”.
Forget about that comment they made you last week that made you feel small and weak.
You shine brighter than ever.
You know better than ever.
You fight harder than ever.
Most importantly, you can now love in a way that can be barely described by words. In a way people spend a lifetime waiting for. In a way that protects you and the ones around you. In the very same way that makes everything that you are going through worth it.
Can’t you really see how deep you get now?
How impossibly thoughtful?
How terribly out of this world?
Isn’t that the most beautiful thing you have ever seen?
That is the only thing that you should be telling yourself from now on.