This makeup tutorial helps you show what your invisible illness looks like.

 

Read the full transcript: 

I have a few conditions, but you couldn’t tell just by looking at me.

I’m going to show you a look that actually reflects what these conditions “look like.”

Here’s the finished look!

What?

I still don’t look like I have any conditions?

My conditions are invisible, which means for me, this it what they look like.

Invisible conditions are valid even though they don’t have a “look.”

Just because someone doesn’t look sick, it doesn’t mean they aren’t.

The next time you think “this person doesn’t look sick”

Remember that conditions can affect anyone.

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Editor’s note: If you struggle with self-harm or suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, click here.

“I am not feeling well” does not just mean the temperature you see on the thermometer; it also means my body and its burning desire to no longer be alive.

“I am not feeling well” does not just mean my head feels heavy and I want to sleep; it also means my heart is sinking to my feet and I physically feel it in my veins.

“I am not feeling well” does not just mean I need a painkiller to take away the pain; it also means I am thinking about self-harming in order to feel something.

“I am not feeling well” does not just mean the food I ate is making me feel like throwing up; it also means my entire existence makes me sick to the point of death.

“I am not feeling well” does not just mean I will feel better after I take this nap; it also means I will take nap after nap after nap after nap, hoping to feel alive again.

“I am not feeling well” does not just mean my joints hurt and I need to slow down; it also means my body is tired of fighting a losing battle and I give up.

Because some days, I wear my depression. Some days, my depression wears me.

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

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741.

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Having dealt with mental illness since a young age, I have lapsed and relapsed more times than I can count. Each time I ended up in the hospital I felt like an enormous failure. I felt hopeless; it seemed like no matter how hard I tried – and I did try — I couldn’t seem to stay better. It made me begin to ask what the point of even trying was. During my most recent and most intense relapse, I discovered three things that had prevented me from making a true recovery, and hopefully won’t again. 

1) The fear of feeling uncomfortable.

As is part of human nature, we are most comfortable with the familiar, even if it is unpleasant. Unfortunately, for those who are mentally ill, what we know is a world of depression, anxiety and unhappiness – living in a state of constant emergency. In a way, the illness becomes an addiction. It became my identity. Living without it, although amazing, is scary. When things start to look up and calm down, it is far too easy to self-sabotage and go back to the comfort of the rubble because at first, happiness is uncomfortable. 

Time and time again, I found myself holding onto the past, unable to accept things for what they are. Even though it was torture, I didn’t know what to think if I was overanalyzing. Finding the courage to be my best friend instead of my own worst enemy is harder than one might think. I like being my own worst enemy because it’s what I know. Staying strong even when the unknown becomes overwhelming, or the temptation to self-sabotage builds up, is one of the most important conscious decisions I’ve made. In time, the new becomes the old and the unfamiliar the familiar; the hardest part is waiting that out, but with patience, it does happen.

You think you look strong because you can hold on, but strength lies in letting go.” — Alan Mandell

2) The want to be right.

When we are given a new fact that is conflicting to one we already have, it leads to a feeling of mental discomfort called cognitive dissonance. To remove this feeling, we have one of two options; either change our belief to match the new fact, or alter the fact so it no longer proves our belief system wrong.

For as long as I can remember I’ve had a core belief I’m worthless, unlovable and a burden to those around me. When those around me did something to prove me wrong, I dismissed it or twisted it until it proved my self-hatred right. Selective attention meant I dismissed kindness and grasped on to the smallest amount of doubt or exasperation. It was a constant test with no right answer. Despite it keeping me miserable, I wanted to continue believing my core beliefs, so refused to accept evidence to the contrary. 

It also meant I had a tendency to create self-fulfilling prophecies. The pressure it might come crashing down meant I made it.

I believed I was a burden and everyone would leave me, so I created situations where I was a burden and in the end, most people couldn’t cope and had to leave. I took these as signs I was uncared for or unloved, when in reality they simply felt they helped all they could and were looking out for their own well-being. 

To truly maintain recovery, I’ve realized the importance in changing my core beliefs, allowing myself to be proved wrong, especially by myself. Only when I am able and willing to see the worth in myself will I be able to see I am worth something to others. Only when I begin to like myself will I actually want to help myself – and the first step towards doing that is to let myself be proven wrong. 

3) Giving the control to others and avoiding responsibility. 

One of the lines that stuck with me from the hospital was, “You suffer because you’re not prepared to go through the pain.” I knew all there was to know about how to improve — I can recite the unhealthy thinking patterns, the strategies to deal with distress and how to problem solve, without blinking an eye — but I never properly tried to use them. It was painful, it was uncomfortable and it was hard. Despite saying I wanted to help myself, I truly didn’t. I talked the talk, but I didn’t walk the walk, which is the only part that matters.

I was in the habit of passing on the responsibility of my actions to whoever was “in charge” of my emotions. When someone hurt me, I blamed them for the consequences. I didn’t realize I was the one in control of myself; that behavior and emotions were two different constructs. No one was in charge of what happened to me, no one could dictate what I did or how I felt – except for me. Realizing that was the hardest and most freeing thing I’ve ever discovered. To take the responsibility of myself on board for the first time in 20 years was intimidating, but it meant I could fix myself. It was no longer in the power of others. It’s clichéd but it’s true that happiness and contentment come from within. Nothing external can affect them – they’re just excuses.

 There’s a saying: “Life will keep giving you the same test over and over again until you pass it.” I feel guilty for the mistakes I’ve made but I’ve learned the more guilt you hold onto, the more likely you are to repeat the mistakes. I did what I could with what I knew, and now I know better, hopefully I can do better. Taking responsibility for myself whilst being open to the help of others, and the idea I may be wrong, means I’m more perceptible to moving forward, no matter how uncomfortable it may feel at first.

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Thinkstock photo via Alexandr Ivanov


I never thought I would be a mental health advocate and writer like I’ve been in these past six months.

As I reflect on this, I think how my life has changed since that moment. I can’t help but think the most important thing you win when you decide to “come clean” about your ghosts is that your life acquires a new meaning. You give your scars, the tears you’ve cried, the rejection, the pain a meaning. A reason. A purpose.

Coming clean about your story won’t cure your illnesses. I still battle with horrible days in which getting out of bed is a triumph. I still have days in which I have to beg my mind to shut up. I still have moments in which death seems as tempting as a piece of chocolate for a person on a diet. I’m still who I was, but I’m not anymore.

Because in speaking my mind, in living an honest life between who I am, how I feel and who I portray to be towards the rest of the world, I found coherence and honesty. I found a way in which I don’t have to deny my personal battles for the fear of them making me feel I’m worth less than others.

And most importantly, I found a place in which I feel safe. I feel understood. I feel like I’m not alone.

I’ve shared my story just to find, with a grateful heart, the surprise of many, many people opening up to me about their own struggles. And there I found out we are all together — we are a community, we are in this battle together. Even though our stories can be different and what triggers our crisis might change, we are all trying our best to take every breath every second and to tell our minds life is worth living.

I’ve felt identified, shattered, full of admiration and inspired by people from all across the word who share a little of their fights in the comments of the articles I post. I’ve felt support from people who live six time zones away from me, and who I will probably never meet in person. But they’ve made me feel I’m not alone, that my story is worth telling, that the battle keeps going.

So thank you, every courageous soul who reaches out and opens up. I dare to say that readers give us so much more than we, writers, give them. Because their feedback is what makes our story worth telling and this whole job meaningful.

We aren’t different, writers and readers, as we all try to be honest and come clean about our battles with our heads up. But we need each other in order to give meaning to the unthinkable and painful events we go through. And hey, what a great thing it is to know you aren’t the only one who fights this horrid monster.

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

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Unsplash photo via Mohamed Nohassi


Not long ago, The Mighty published an article I wrote regarding the “functionality” of some people who live with mental illness. Many people shared and liked the article because it allowed them to voice what they couldn’t put into words. From the comments I was able to read, a lot of people felt identified and many added their own personal stories of not being taken seriously. As a psychologist, while I was glad to be able to help raise awareness, I was also sad and worried because so many people, tens of thousands of them, complained that they still weren’t taken seriously.

So, what can you do if you’re in this position? While each case is unique and complicated in its own way, this is the advice I have for you:

1. Know your illness or disorder. If you don’t know exactly what your diagnosis is or are confused about it, then know your symptoms.

Here’s the thing: When you’re going through a crisis (by crisis I mean a
moment in which your disorder is getting the best of you) it can be hard to know what to think. The reason why people can’t “talk you” out of your crisis is because you are probably not thinking very coherently in that moment. Neurologically, your brain starts working differently by increasing or decreasing the amount of activity in certain areas, which will make you feel and think differently from your usual self. Because of this, you can sometimes forget what made you act the way you did or what the motivation was for a behavior. You can be focusing on one symptom while not taking into account another because it might be more subtle for you. Sometimes you will feel that you can’t explain what you’re feeling or thinking during a crisis because it gets sort of hazy and then, when you’re questioned by someone else who is trying to understand what you’re going through, you might not be able to explain correctly what’s going on. My advice for this is that when you’re going through a crisis, somehow try to make these feelings and behaviors conscious and keep track of them by either drawing, writing or even recording yourself or talking to someone who can help you recall later what you were going through.

2. Tell someone you think would understand…

If you’re a “high functioning” person with a mental disorder, chances are many people around you have no idea what you’re going through. Two of the statements in the article many people were touched by were,“I can be dying inside while going through the motions of the day,” and, “these ‘high functioning’ people don’t do it because they want to fool others, they do it because they want to produce and be a
part of society.” So many people are in the mentally illness closet. Each person has his/her own reason for being there. Whether it’s because others depend on them, or the stigma in their families or society is too strong, or there is no apparent help available, the truth is that mental illness is lonely. When you’re dealing with the demons that inhabit your reality, you’re dealing with demons that inhabit your reality and because of that it seems that nobody can understand them. But sometimes it’s less about fighting those demons for you and more about being with you while you fight them.

3.but don’t expect everyone to understand.

The stigma of the “mentally ill” is real. Unfortunately, a large number of people are ignorant regarding mental disorders. With people freely using psychological terms for everyday emotions such as swapping sadness for depression, fear for panic, happiness for mania, and labeling all mentally ill people as “crazy,” we still have a long way to go. Fortunately, however, mental health awareness is increasing exponentially, allowing the generations to come to enjoy a world more empathic than ours. So, you might be met with many people who will downplay your struggles
or even press you to change your situation. Most of the times the culprit is lack of knowledge, or sometimes it is fear of not knowing what to in order to help you.

In any of these cases, if the person is important enough for you, take the time to truly explain what’s going on and tell them what you expect of them and how they can help.

4. Know that mental health professionals are people too.

Whether you agree or disagree with how this should be, there is a fact: there is no mental health professional who is an expert on every single mental illness and disorder. Each one is so complex in its own way that it takes many years to be able to really understand them and their treatments. Try to look for someone that specializes in the disorder you have and if you’re unsure about a professional, feel free to ask him/her if s/he has experience treating your disorder.

Finally, I’d like to add that it’s important to be kind and nice to others. Here we are, “high-functioning” people with a mental disorders who others have no idea that are struggling. How many of us are there? It seems to me that a lot; a whole lot that we never even thought of. Just like a nice gesture, a smile, an affirmation of our existence goes a long way for us, it will also go a long way for that stranger that might be more like us than we thought.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via Veleri


I get frustrated trying to describe what being a mental health advocate means. Who am I to say what exactly is mentally healthy? Do you have an idea? I mean I think I do. At least for me. But I’m just one guy. What appears to me as good mental health can and often is perceived as repulsive by others. Are they wrong? I don’t know! You see how frustrating this can be, right? Can I be an advocate for something that means so many different things to so many different people?

Why even bother, I find myself asking more and more lately.

But here is one major problem: I feel as if our community can become too fixated on an unrealistic target of what good mental health and recovery should look like that we end up not being inclusive enough. Personally, I’m at the point where I’d rather just shut up, and listen to people’s experiences from outside of a mental health advocate perspective. Take it all in without feeling like I’m supposed to help them. I don’t necessarily want to know their diagnosis or what their treatment plan is. I just want to be around cool people and it just so happens that the coolest people I’ve ever been around are those who feel immensely. I didn’t say people with bipolar disorder, or borderline or schizophrenia. Just people who feel. And that doesn’t always look pretty. So many people will never “recover” or (one of my faves) “get their lives back together” and that’s because, in some ways, there can be liberation in rejecting those narratives completely. Mind blowing, right?

I’m not writing this to tear down the mental health advocate community. I want to help make it better. We all have had some trauma in our life and we deal with it in our own ways. And not everyone deals with it in ways that will get them on magazine covers and giving speeches in front of hundreds of cheering fans. Not everyone needs to be inspirational, especially when the term inspirational is currently so narrowly defined. All I am saying is that we need to be a bit more open-minded. That’s enough to argue, right?

So am I, Rudy Caseres, a mental health advocate? Well, if by mental health you mean freedom to feel immensely and speak proudly about it. I can get down with that definition. All I really want is to help people feel safe enough to express their truth. Because then that’s when people can let their guard down, stop trying to keep up appearances and actually live a little. Because feel doesn’t just mean crying and complaining. It means living. Really living. And who wouldn’t want to advocate for that?

This is the first blog post of my month long contribution to #Blog4MH. Thank you Karen Copeland and Jasmine Rakhra for inviting me to be a part of this talented and passionate community. Please make sure to follow the #Blog4MH hashtag on social media for contributions from other writers.

 This piece was originally published on Rudy’s Facebook page.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photos Grandfailure

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