By Rosie Bailey
1. Mental illness can be extremely complex
There is often lots going on when somebody has a mental illness and it can affect many of aspects of our lives. There is rarely a straightforward reason why mental illness might develop and often we don’t understand the situation ourselves – please be patient with us!
2. We don’t expect you to understand
We know that it is difficult for people to understand mental illness. Also, we don’t expect you to ‘get it’ but we would just like you to accept and acknowledge us without judgement. There’s not always a reason or explanation and we know that sometimes we are being irrational. Knowing this doesn’t mean we can change how we are feeling or behaving.
3. We don’t want to burden you
We’re really quite good at pretending to be OK, but a lot of the time there is far more to our mental health than we are able to explain. We smile and laugh a lot because we are worried about being judged or that people around us won’t be able to cope with it.
4. Sometimes we just need our own space
We promise that we are not avoiding you, sometimes we just can’t face the world on that particular day and we might need a short period of hibernation to get ourselves back on track! Our intention isn’t to appear rude when we cancel plans, avoid situations, ignore texts, or get defensive. Please respect and listen to us when we want our own space. More than anything we want you to know that those words and actions aren’t aimed at you – please don’t take it personally.
5. No recovery is perfect
The good days don’t mean that we are cured. Just as the bad days don’t mean that we will be stuck in this struggle forever. If we are having a good day then that is great, not just for us, but also the people around us! However, part of our recovery is learning that perfection isn’t possible. We will have good days but at points we will also take steps backward and have to try again.
6. We aren’t lazy
Having a mental illness is a constant weight on our shoulders and that in itself can be exhausting! A mental illness is exactly that – mental; it’s in our heads, and that can be pretty tricky to avoid!
7. At times, we miss “us” as well
I think that one of the hardest things to hear when you are struggling with your mental health is someone close to you saying that they “miss the old you” or that you are “being lost to the illness”. Trust us, we ourselves are pretty high up the list of people who miss “us”! Please don’t give up; we will come out the other side of all this!
8. Medication is not a weakness
Nobody should feel ashamed of taking medication for a mental illness. As human beings, it is likely that we will all become unwell at some point in our lives. For some of us (as many as 1 in 4 each year!) that ill health will take the form of a mental illness and will perhaps require medication to aid recovery. Taking medication isn’t a cop-out and it doesn’t mean that you can’t “hack life” on your own.
I like to consider medication for mental illness in the same light as I would consider crutches for a broken leg. If you broke a leg it would eventually heal on its own even if you continued walking on it without crutches. The process however would take a lot longer, the bone probably wouldn’t heal as well, and the experience would be a lot more painful than if you’d had crutches. A similar principle applies to taking medication for your mental health!
9. We’re sorry to all the people we hurt whilst we are hurting
We’re sorry that sometimes we appear self-centered and distracted. But we promise we do care about your problems too. Sometimes we are just fighting so hard to keep our heads above water, therefore we don’t have the energy to handle anything more than that. We know that we are ignoring everything else right now but we promise to try to make it up to you when we’ve pulled ourselves together.
10. We are beyond grateful to have you by our side!
We might not always have the words to express our gratitude. For someone with a mental illness it means the world to have a support system of people who refuse to give up on you! Without you we wouldn’t be fighting as hard as we are. The people around us are the reason that the prospect of being well and healthy is so exciting. We really do understand that it’s hard on you as well, but to have you beside us showing kindness and patience means the world.
Love Rosie x
Reproduced with permission, originally posted here