4 Reasons I Often Feel Alone in My Struggle With Mental Illness
1. The stigma surrounding mental illness.
Stigma surrounds mental illness. People believe I self-harm for attention. They sometimes think I proclaim I am suicidal because I want to make someone feel bad for me. They sometimes believe I can’t do something because I am “lazy” or “don’t care.” Though there is no truth behind this, people still believe it. This makes it hard to share my feelings with others.
2. Seeing me struggle causes my loved ones pain.
I am not unaware of the pain my struggle can cause in others. I see the worry in their eyes and the fear in their voices when I open up about my most inner thoughts. The things that go through my mind are sometimes scary, and they are too much for some people to bear. No one likes to see someone they love struggle, so I sometimes wonder how I can share my struggle, knowing it’ll cause those I care about pain.
3. I fear becoming a burden.
No matter how many times people tell me I am not a burden in their lives, I often feel it isn’t true. I believe having someone unload all their problems on you on a daily basis is difficult to endure, no matter how much you may love them. Eventually, I fear they will become tired of hearing it all and need a break. The problem is, my illness never takes a break. I am constantly in need of someone to talk to, but I have to limit myself and spread my talks out so as not to chase another friend away.
4. I don’t want to be defined by my struggle
I am so much more than my illness, but its hard to see that if all I do is talk to others about it. It is a huge part of my life and is a daily battle, so it’s hard for it not to come up. But I fear if it comes up enough, people will start seeing me as “crazy,” “insane” or “unstable.” I don’t want to be someone’s “mentally unstable friend.” I don’t want to be the friend they have to tip toe around and not confide in because it might make me crack. So I hide behind a mask and pretend like everything is OK so it at least seems like I have a “normal” life.
I know I am not alone, and I have many people who love and support me. But that’s the thing about my mental illness — it convinces me otherwise.
If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.
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Thinkstock photo via Grandfailure.