Living with any mental illness is tough. Really tough.
You try you hardest to hide it in most cases through fear of being judged. Then when you’re brave enough to tell people you are faced with blank faces and unhelpful advice or comments. Even the most understanding of friends distance themselves or simply disappear. I am diagnosed with a few mental health issues so I might have more struggles than most but that doesn’t mean others aren’t struggling or being misunderstood every day. These are just a few of the things that I wish people knew about my diagnosis.
What I wish people knew about living with a mental illness;
My impulses are extremely difficult to fight
I get very strong and random impulses to do things. Whether its classed as a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ thing it’s important to understand these are like immediate requirements! They aren’t just a ‘want’ they are an overwhelming ‘need’! If I can’t do that thing then I will become angry, depressed and to everyone around me I probably seem sulky and moody. But the truth is inside I am fighting a fierce battle.
I have a huge fear of abandonment
I’m scared of losing you! All of you! If I have gone periods of time without hearing from you – especially if I have messaged you and you haven’t replied – I will become panicked, depressed, angry, irrational and may even feel bitter! I have these irrational fears of upsetting you or making you mad. I never think I am going to be good enough to be your friend, wife or daughter. Then I feel like I’m going to make you so upset or mad that you will leave me forever!
When i’m feeling low, i’m not just ‘a bit down’
I would probably say this is one of the most difficult things to explain. When that black hole appears its real, debilitating pain. It is like it opens up and gets deeper and deeper and blacker and blacker. It opens up and sucks me in. Engulfing me in blackness. It honestly takes superhuman strength to get out of this. Please know i’m climbing and i’m trying. I’m not just ‘a bit down’.
I need constant reassurance
This is a tough one as it can make me look and sound pretty pathetic but again it’s one of my painful symptoms. I need to feel loved, I need to feel wanted. I need to feel like I haven’t ruined our relationship by saying something wrong, disagreeing with you or just by generally being a horrible wife, daughter or friend. I need to know you’re here for me and that you won’t disappear and leave me. Finally, I need to know I am an ‘OK’ person and not the horrible person I believe I am.
I have very low self-esteem
When I say very low self – esteem I really mean LOW! I’m not talking about a feeling of not looking pretty enough on one or days of the week or month. I have a very ingrained believed that I am a bad, horrible person. I truly believe this. Some days are better than others but ultimately I believe I am not very nice. If something goes wrong then it’s my fault – it has to be because I am not a very nice person. I have body issues also, so I truly believe I am overweight and ugly. Again some days are better than others but most of the time I feel like this. I’m not asking you to shower me with compliments but maybe just be gentle and understand these are my true feelings not a cry for attention.
I am not really a horrible person
Now this alone is difficult to write as a lot of the time my illnesses make me feel like I am a horrible person. My behaviour is sometimes fulled by my disordered thinking patterns. Sometimes I do things that to the outside world are rude, sulky or just mean but to me at that time that particular behaviour is completely logical. I am not trying to make excuses I am just trying to let you know that those things that I do aren’t ALL me. They are a byproduct of my illness. So please, When these times occur, try to see past the behaviour and see me. I am here. I am just desperately trying to control my illnesses and my mind.
This covers just a handful of the things I wish people knew about living with a mental illness. In my case Boarderline Personality Disorder. I hope it helps with your understanding or perhaps show to a loved one if you relate to this post and it might just help them to understand better.
Stay strong and keep fighting.
Lots of love
Reproduced with permission, originally published here