Part of me wishes that I would never have to write this post, but as I was diagnosed with a mental illness over a month ago and I want to document my mental health journey here with you guys on my blog, I think it is important to talk about all the aspects of mental health on my blog, which includes explaining what mental illness feels like to people who don't suffer from any mental illness.
I am probably going to be doing a post in the future about how to actually tell friends and family about your mental illness, as I know that can be very challenging but today I wanted to focus on explaining what it feels like. This doesn't necessary mean that you would ever want to share these thoughts and feelings with your family- I know I wouldn't but I think it's a good way to educate and help those who don't have to go through what you do, understand it a little better, which ultimately helps towards ending the stigma and can help the sufferer get the support they need.
Obviously, mental illness feels different to different people. This largely depends on the severity of your mental illness, the mental illness that you suffer from and even if you suffer from more than one mental illness or not. In order to help you understand what mental illness feels like I have included a few tweets from people who wanted to share what mental illness feels like to them, as well as my own personal thoughts and feelings.
What does mental illness feel like to me? Well, that's a great question with a million possible answers! Just like every human being on the planet, we all have good days and bad days. Mental health is no different. Sometimes I have days when something good happens and I am happy. My intrusive thoughts aren't too bad, I can get on with things. But this can change very quickly. Sometimes I am sad for no reason. Sometimes I am an anxious wreck for no reason and sometimes I find it hard to accomplish anything because I haven't left the sink for more than hour that day.
To me, OCD feels like you have a second job, another life commitment on top of everything else. I have a social life (Okay, that's a lie but we are going to go with it), friends, family. college and a blog to worry about but on top of all that I have OCD. I like to think of my brain split into two sections. One-half is dedicated to college work/blogging the other half is dedicated to worrying about germs, bacteria and contamination and doing everything I can to avoid coming into contact with those things, which helps stop the intrusive thoughts within my mind (for a short period, anyway). Everything else has little importance in my life, unfortunately.
A lot of people say OCD is like living with an abusive partner. For me, it's like living with a bully, constantly in my head. It makes me do things I don't want to do. It put's me through pain and if I don't obey, it threatens me with horrible images and says all these bad things will happen to me and my family. This bully never goes away. It's there first thing in the morning until I go to bed at night and sometimes it even wakes me up in the middle of the night, just to let me know that it's still there.
OCD feels like a never ending cycle. Like I am running a marathon that never comes to an end. I feel like I have the anxiety and thoughts under control, I am coming to the finish line and as if by magic, the thoughts and images come back to me, resulting in compulsive behaviour and overwhelming worry and dread. The finish line becomes even further away. This cycle happens over and over again meaning that I never reach the finish line.
Mental illness in general to me feels like I have been entered into the world's strongest man competition by mistake. I feel like I am carrying around one of those really heavy boulders constantly on my shoulders. I feel exhausted like I have just finished pulling a monster truck, yet I haven't moved all day at all. Sometimes I feel like I have just been run over by a bus. Phew, I escaped! But only to hit by another one, coming from the other direction. This describes my mood- one minute I'm up, the next minute I am down. Most of the time I am down.
As well as sharing with you guys, what mental illness feels like to me, I want to share with you how other mental illness suffers describe what mental illness feels like to them. I sent out a tweet a few weeks ago and I got a great response. Thank you to anyone who tweeted me or sent me a DM to be part of this post.
I can really relate to the points these girls made. I find it really interesting to see how mental illness affects people differently and how everyone describes it very differently. I hope this will help you understand from a range of different perspectives from people with different mental illnesses. Despite many of tweets coming from people with different mental health conditions, I feel like I could relate to everything they were saying. I am sorry if you sent me a tweet or DM and I did not include it, I got quite a few and thought it would be better to just include a selection.
I completely understand that coming to terms with a friends or family member's mental illness can be very challenging for non-suffers. It can be difficult for you to put yourself in their shoes and be able to comprehend some of the thoughts and feelings that go through their head when you have never had to experience something like that yourself.
However, by doing this post and including a range of different perspectives on what mental illness feels like asides from my own hopefully this will give you a little insight into what living with a mental illness feels like. If you suffer from a mental illness and think that this post would be useful for a non-suffer whether that be a friend or family member, please do share this post with them, so they can understand a little bit better what you are going through, so hopefully they can give you the support you need!
As always, I am here if you ever need to talk regarding mental health or you just want someone to listen to your problems. Send me an email to email@example.com or drop me a DM on Twitter and I will do my best to support you and provide you with the help you need.
If you have a mental illness, how would you describe it to non-suffers? I would love to know in the comments below!
Thank you for reading, as always x
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