I just experienced a hurtful and frustrating encounter with someone very close to me who doesn’t really understand how mental illnesses affects someone’s emotional well-being and physical well-being. I was diagnosed with depression at 13 years old, which later was changed to bipolar disorder at age 27, as well as PTSD, anxiety, ADHD and paranoia. It’s safe to say I’ve been medicated for my illnesses for more than half my life, having tried almost every drug out there. I also have been seeing therapists, psychiatrists, counselors and the inside of mental health hospitals for years.
Over the years, I have always managed to keep my experiences, emotions, or problems to myself. I never talk to family or friends about how I’m feeling, my treatments or thoughts. It is not for fear of the stigma that comes with mental illnesses, but rather because I don’t want anyone to worry about me. I know everyone has something going on in their lives and the last thing I want is added stress. I guess from the outside, it appears that I have my life all put together since I always make it a priority to smile and joke around when I’m in social situations. The problem is, it takes everything I have just to get out of bed every morning. The smiling and joking is a full time, 24/7, non-stop job for me. I have mastered the art of pretending to be happy, pretending I care, pretending to be someone I’m not. There are many things I wish I could say to the people in my life so they could understand what I go through on a daily basis, but like I said, I never want anyone to worry.
I wish I could tell them that when I say I don’t feel well, it’s not just a headache or stuffy nose. I wish they knew not feeling well meant I haven’t left my house in a week or haven’t brushed my hair for three days. I cannot form a single though due to the chaos in my head. Not feeling well also includes the buildup of anxiety upon having to be outside of my comfort zone. I wish I could tell them the paranoia I have is causing constant panic attacks which make me vomit daily. I haven’t slept in days due to my mania and then crash, leaving me depressed, exhausted and emotionally wrecked.
I wish I could tell them how I plan every minute of every day around taking my medication on time, or even that I need to take six different prescriptions to feel “normal.” I wish I could tell them that I see/text/call my doctors and therapist more than them. I wish they knew of my crippling fear of talking to people or even looking them in the eyes, afraid of judgement and disapproval.
I wish I could tell them I cry every day because I don’t know what’s wrong with me or how to fix it. I wish they could feel my pain and know how scared I am because I will be like this for the rest of my life. I wish they could understand why I don’t want my life to go on some days and why I hope to just not wake up anymore. I wish they knew how I would never wish mental illness on anyone and how hard we fight every single day. I wish they knew my full story, the bruises, the cuts, the scars, the broken bones and my horribly abusive past, the nightmares, the flashbacks, the hallucinations. I wish they knew how hard I fight and how hard I will always continue to fight.
I wish they could understand how scared I am of the outside world and describing all of the voices and noises playing in my head every day.
Most of all, I wish I could tell them how much I love all of them and how much I miss them sometimes.
I hope maybe you can share my story so others realize what they feel is “normal” and how strong they really are. We are a special group of people and even if their family or friends don’t quite understand, we do.
Share your story, message, poem, quote, photo or video of hope, struggle or recovery. By sharing your experience, you can let others know that they are not alone.