Hello bookworms and welcome back! It’s Monday, and you know what that means… or at least, I hope you know what that means – It’s Monday Musings time! This week, I felt an urge to share and ramble about something that is up close and personal, but also a wider issue at the same time. Mental illness.
I’m a strong advocate for raising awareness for mental illness. It’s a thing that I love to see explored in books, it’s something that I loved learning about in school and still love learning about and it’s something that I struggled with a lot in recent years. Why do I have such a fascination and
(slight obsession) for seeing mental illness being discussed and addressed? Because it’s so hard to understand. Doctors have the physical illnesses all figured out (kind of… well, more than mental illness that’s for sure!), but when it comes to mental illness, it’s not so simple. Not everyone experiences mental illness the same way, there isn’t one particular cause that can account for everyone. Some people face mental illness on an intense scale, while others face it with a smaller intensity, which can make it harder for doctors to recognise symptoms and such, which in turn can create a barrier for some people – one of which, I was included.
Today, I wanted to share with you all my personal experience with mental illness and how it has affected my life. I would say that I have since recovered from the more intense nature of my mental illness, which reached its peak last year. But I wouldn’t say that I have fully recovered – my anxiety still stands and comes out occasionally, which is always an uncomfortable experience that I am always trying to get rid of. But I’ve recovered so much in the past few months, that I just want to share what my journey has been like and what is still ahead of me.
Naturally, I am a very withdrawn and quiet person. I’ve always found it hard to interact with people and make new friends. Meeting and talking to people I am unfamiliar with, evokes a huge amount of anxiety within me, sometimes to the point where my body reacts in response to my internal panic. Social situations, and situations where I might be on my own in a group of people with no one I am familiar with, scares me. It scares me a lot. Even thinking about this type of situation right now is making my heart race faster than normal (which, by the way, sucks).
My social anxiety has always been an extra weight on my shoulders, and especially last year, as I began to move into adulthood, where more opportunities and responsibilities were being thrust upon me, I found myself to be anxious almost all the time. I was placed in more situations where things were new to me, with new people, and in these situations, I was usually on my own, without people I was close with. Mixed in with this anxiety, was the stress of my last year of high school and my final exams. The result of this? I started to slowly spiral into a state of depression.
Not long after my birthday last year in June, I found myself pulling back into my thoughts. I was constantly thinking about how I was feeling, asking myself why I was feeling the way I was. I started to question my existence and more than a few times I told myself that I was worthless and that there was no reason for me around. My anxiety flared up when going into almost any social situation, because I was so fixed on the thought that no one really cared whether I was around or not, which soon led to me withdrawing from these social situations. I stopped going to regular meetings, I stopped seeing my friends and I locked myself up at home, in my room. I was on the verge of tears almost all the time, and I was almost like a zombie walking around school every day. I couldn’t concentrate in class because I was constantly thinking about the pointlessness of life. And I became suicidal. The scariest part was that it didn’t freak me out that I was suicidal. The only feeling I felt, was numbness.
For me, it was hard because I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know who to talk to, and I constantly feared that if I did open to someone, I’d be criticised and told that my feelings were irrational.
You see, this is why I have such strong interests in mental illness – because I believe it should be something we are well educated in and it should be treated in the same way we treat any other kind of illness. The mind is important – your brain is what allows you to live the way you do – move the way you do, see the way you do, think the way you do. If we can’t understand and know how to deal with the problems that our minds can face, then we are ignoring a big part of ourselves. Your mental health is extremely important, and with the amount of suicide and other things going on, we really need to do something about bringing more awareness to everyone about it.
There’s a sort of weight, or stigma that comes with some of the words we use in regards to mental illness. Words like depression, anxiety, bipolar, schizophrenia – and there are so many more, I could go on for a while – have something attached to them that even today, makes mental illness a taboo subject. And it shouldn’t be, because it’s becoming such a huge problem in so many people’s lives, and when people feel like they can’t share what they’re feeling for the fear that they’re going to be judged, this only intensifies the problem because we’re forced to keep these things to ourselves. Granted, it’s hard to judge whether someone has a mental illness – but that’s the thing, we shouldn’t leave it to the most extreme circumstances, or the most extreme signs of symptoms to deal with a mental issue. It should be something we deal with immediately, something we take with the most extreme care. Coming from the perspective where I felt an extreme fear that what I was feeling was irrational, and not anything serious, despite the fact that it was, I really feel that we need a huge wave of normalization of what mental illness is – being able to speak freely about how we feel without the thought that we might be getting judged.
And with that rant over, I go back to my journey. I call it a journey because I don’t think it’s ever truly over – its life, and life’s a journey. I’ve gone through a huge stage of recovery, and I thank God, and the people around me who have supported me and held me up through the tough times, but the journey is still going. My anxiety is not so easily removed from me, and sometimes it’s still a major battle to deal with it in everyday life situations. While I haven’t got it as tough as others, I believe it’s important to share – your feelings are valid, they are real, and they are important. You should never be afraid of telling people how you feel, most especially, the people who love you most. The only thing that holding everything inside does, is send you further into that pit that you might feel you’re in. Sometimes, it’s the people closest to you that you find are the hardest to open up to, but don’t let this stop you, don’t let it isolate yourself from the people who can do the most to build you up and help you.
I don’t really know where this post is going anymore, honestly. It’s Monday Musings, so it’s all a bunch of personal babbling! My babbling about the importance of mental illness and how important it is that we talk about it more freely and openly about it.