There are times with my mental health where I feel as though I’m getting somewhere. I don’t feel like I have a human-sized paperweight on my chest at all times and that voice in my head telling me how worthless I am is silent. Perhaps more frustrating than all of that is feeling almost good and crashing back down because of something small. A broken glass, a thoughtless sentence, a heavy atmosphere, or just nothing at all.
So when I hear and see people try to explain how certain mental illnesses aren’t real, that something is just some personality quirk that you refuse to try and break, perhaps caused by poor diet, well… Frankly, it pisses me off.
To live with mental illness is not a choice, it’s a prison. For me, personally, my diet and fitness levels were not an issue when my depression and anxiety first developed. Heck, I don’t even know when I developed them. I mean, the first time I went to a doctor about any of this was around the age of 16 or 17, but there’s a chance it could go back to my childhood. I had a decent childhood, but of course it wasn’t perfect and I still don’t know what effect certain things had on my mind. I started comfort eating in my early teens, lost the weight, got really depressed, and at some point went back to comfort eating. It was not and has never been a choice.
Actually, without the mental illness, I’m a generally happy, outgoing kind of person who loves to laugh and find the magic in most things. That is the person I try to project onto the internet. I don’t like my mental illnesses, why wouldn’t I want them gone? But sadly they are a part me, and have been for anywhere between 12 and 21 years, and even my doctor said it might just be something I’m stuck with. Fun, eh?
To put mental illness into perspective, particularly depression and anxiety; imagine wading through a heavy bog, in a rainstorm, alone (because everybody else is either on the other side or fighting through their own storms). You fall sometimes because heck, it’s slippery, and you get mucky but you do get up, yet still it’s an ongoing struggle.
That’s what it’s like, for me at least. It’s arduous and sometimes you might get tired and need to stop to rest before continuing on. You can’t just stop being there, it’s a process, and who’s to say you won’t end up in another one further along your path?
I would love to be rid of all of this and just get on with life without seemingly simple things stopping me in my tracks and being stuck on medication for years on end, I would, but it’s not a reality. I always try to do better, and maybe one day I’ll get there, but as things are right now, when I hear that my mental illness is just a construct… I can certainly understand the reasoning from a person who doesn’t have that firsthand knowledge, but all it does is lead those of us who do to end up in the “I’m a worthless failure” spiral.
So perhaps think before you speak and pass judgment on those who may be struggling with caution. We need more kindness in the world, not more judgement.