What I Wish You Understood About My Mental Illnesses

I am not a well person.

While I’ve had endometriosis since I was 16, and I’ve had asthma since forever, my long-term more “serious” chronic health issues are far more recent. They were created by a bout of unfortunate illnesses: glandular fever, meningitis, and then, finally, encephalitis.

Due to chronic fatigue, I am often always tired, no matter how much sleep I get. I can fall asleep pretty much anywhere and at any time.

I wish you understood that.

I wish you understood me when I say I’m exhausted.

I wish you understood how difficult it is, at times, to do the most basic tasks.

I wish you understood that no matter how much I want to work full-time, doing so takes an incredible toll on me.

I wish you understood that it takes so much extra effort do the activities you deem “normal.”

I wish you understood that I now experience severe anxiety disorder and clinical depression.

I wish you understood that my mental illness is real — that I see a therapist and I take medication.

I wish you understood this is real: I am not depressed or anxious in an attempt to gain “attention” or “sympathy.”

I wish you understood how difficult it is for me to trust now, after being betrayed the way I was.

I wish you understood how difficult it can be for me to go out with people I truly trust — let alone when I meet new people.

I wish you understood how deeply those people affected me, and no matter how hard I try, I cannot just “get over it.” After all, it wasn’t just them. It was also all those that never listened.

I wish you understood that sometimes I have self-harmed in the past, not for attention, but I wanted some control over the never-ending pain I was feeling.

I wish you understood that when I tried to kill myself, I felt like I was drowning. It wasn’t for attention. How could it be, when, until recently, only my husband knew what I’d done? It wasn’t for attention. It was because, in that moment, I truly believed no one cared. No one was listening. I felt alone.

I wish you understood that suicide, or attempted suicide, isn’t about you – even if it feels that way. It’s about the person who feels depressed.

I wish you understood how hard it is for people with mental illnesses to speak out and the extreme courage that bravery takes.

But mostly, I wish you understood that depression and anxiety aren’t things a person can just “snap out of.”

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page. 

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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