Tuesday 30 May 2017

10 Things You Will Understand If You Struggle With a Mental Illness

10 Things You Will Understand If You Struggle With a Mental Illness mental health wellbeing depression anxiety OCD panic attacks blogger UK Buzzfeed happiness support love

One in four people struggles with their mental health, in any given year. That statistic is so well known now it has almost lost its meaning. Sometimes you will never know what it is truly like to struggle with a mental illness until you have been through it yourself or watched a loved one go through it. The media, mental health charities and bloggers can throw stats at you left, right and centre all day long about how many people struggle with a mental illness, etc. but I truly believe you will only understand what it's really like to suffer from a mental illness, once you are on the inside. 

I find comfort in talking to people who also struggle with their mental health or a mental illness, whether it is OCD or not. There is something magical and unifying about listening and sharing your problems with people who really understand because they have been through what you have been through. Even if it's a completely different mental health issue to what you struggle with, there are some very common problems and features, that nearly everyone will experience when they struggle with their mental health.

This leads me on nicely, to today's post. I often read Buzzfeed when I'm bored, I mean who doesn't? In particular, I love reading the articles or watching the videos about 'things you will understand if...' these are often quite trivial things. For example, things you will understand if you live in the south or things only girls understand, etc. I think the same can be applied to people with mental illness. Which is why I came up with this list of 10 things I know I have experienced through being mentally ill and I'm pretty sure others would have too. 

1) Mental Health Stigma 

This is probably the biggest one of them all. It doesn't matter if you have anxiety, depression, OCD, an eating disorder, bipolar or any other type of mental illness, you will undoubtedly experience mental health stigma in one way or another. There are the people who don't even believe mental illness exists and those who think depression is all about just being a bit sad or OCD is where you like things clean and tidy etc. Mental health stigma is driven by ignorance and a lack of education. Although you can't always blame people for not understanding mental health properly, due to the inaccurate portrayal in the media, etc. it doesn't make our situation any better. Sometimes it's not the illness that's the hardest thing to deal with. It's the stigma that goes alongside it.

2) The side effects of medication 

If you take medication for your mental health, you would have probably experienced some side effects in doing so. Not going to lie sometimes the side effects are worse than the illness in the first place. And since when did antidepressants cause depression? Like, how would you even know they cause depression, surely you have to be depressed in the first place to take them? Although some of the potential side effects are nothing to be laughed at, some of them are very weird. It can be a challenge finding the medication and right dosage for you which has minimal embarrassing and inconvenient side effects. I feel ya struggle! 

3) The waiting times for NHS therapy 

I waited six months for mine. That's absolutely ridiculous. Someone who is at breaking point should NOT have to wait that long. But I was one of the lucky ones. Some people don't get seen for 12 months or even more! Like I'm sorry, you wouldn't leave someone with diabetes 12 months before they were allowed treatment so why do people with anxiety and depression have to wait that long? It just blows my mind that the budget for physical and mental health isn't the same. 1 in 4 are affected by mental health, yet never enough seems to be done about improving the services we have here in the UK.

4) The cost of private therapy 

Even if you have never had private therapy, you've probably looked into it. Probably while you were stuck on the NHS waiting list. Then realised that it's hella expensive and you would never be able to afford it unless you sold your house and moved into a shoebox. Even then, it would still be a struggle. Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating a bit, but seriously the way the system works here in the U.K. is shocking. The treatment and support you receive shouldn't be dependent on your income and postcode. 

10 Things You Will Understand If You Struggle With a Mental Illness mental health wellbeing depression OCD anxiety help support panic attacks Buzzfeed funny blogger

5) The pure achievement of just getting out of bed sometimes 

If you don't have a mental illness, just imagine the worst case of flu you have ever had and then imagine having that every single day. That is what it's like living with a mental illness, sometimes. It can take every inch of strength in your body just to get up and complete mundane tasks. The sheer thought of knowing you have to get up face the world and all its problems as well as having this invisible illness which makes even the smallest of tasks unbearable is too much to cope with. If you have a mental illness, you will fully appreciate the effort it takes to get out of bed on those bad mental health days. 

6) The really good mental health days 

It is not all doom and gloom though. The bad mental health days suck like really suck, but they help you appreciate the good mental health days. The recovery process from mental illness is not linear. It takes time. There will be a lot of bumps in the road to overcome, but there will also be highs, moments of achievement that are worth celebrating. If you didn't have the bad days, the good days wouldn't feel half as good as they do.

7) The endless doctors' appointments 

Since my diagnosis last June, I think I have seen my doctor every month. For the first few months after diagnosis, it was like every couple of weeks. I might as well live in that place now because I spend so much time there. Even the receptionists and chemists know me without asking, my name, it's crazy! Of course, if you spend a lot of time at the doctors you get used to all the problems that go alongside that. For example, never being able to find a suitable appointment time or leaving your prescriptions way to late and practically begging the staff to do you an emergency prescription. I promise I'm getting better at that one.

8) The negative misinformed media coverage of mental illness 

It doesn't take the media long to tell us that every murderer, criminal or rapist has mental health problems when reported on the news. Yes, they might do. But that doesn't mean every person with mental health problems is dangerous or a criminal. It infuriates me so much. Most in society assume that because every time they hear mental illness reported on the news, it's reported it a largely negative context, that anyone they know in real life with mental health issues, also fits this stereotype. NO! Not at all! This constant negative portrayal of mental health in the media is damaging to people who really do suffer, as they continue to struggle in silence.  

9) The anger when someone uses mental illness terminology incorrectly 

This kind of links back to my first point. When I hear someone in my class say " I'm so OCD because I need my poster to look just right" my blood boils. Like seriously, I wish I could confront these people, but most of the time, I'm too tired or angry to do so. I understand that a lack of education plays a huge part in this misunderstanding, but it never makes me feel any better. It trivialises serious mental health problems which really do rule and ruin sufferers lives. You wouldn't joke about cancer so don't joke about mental illness. 

10) The useless advice people give you when they are trying to be helpful

On the one hand, I do admire people who try and give advice to people they know are struggling with their mental health. Like at least they want to help and acknowledge they are struggling, which is more than some people do. But if you tell someone with depression to 'cheer up' or someone with anxiety to ' just go for a walk' is that really helping them? No. No, it won't! In most cases, it will just make them feel worse. Although having a more positive mindset, exercising and looking after yourself do help contribute to a better mental health. They aren't miracle cures. They are not going to magically make people better. So, just lay off the advice if you don't know what you're on about. 

If you suffer from a mental illness or struggle with your mental health, I am sure you will be able to relate to most of these things on this list. 

I would love to know if there is anything else, you would add? What other daily struggles do you face as a result of living with a mental illness? Let me know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading, as always X 

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