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When People Don't Take Your Chronic Illness Seriously Because You Have a Mental Illness Too

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I wish I could say that society was getting better, that there was no prejudice against mental illness — but I feel it every day.

Not only do I struggle with borderline personality disorder (BPD), social anxiety, eating disorders and major depressive disorder, I also live with chronic illness. Fibromyalgia, chronic migraines, colitis, gastritis and IBS which I know are all flared up by stress that my mental illnesses can cause.

But how is it fair for everything to be blamed on my mental illness? I should be able to walk into the doctor or emergency and to have my physical illnesses taken seriously. Instead, I feel ashamed and judged because I live with mental illness.

“Are you sure you’re not just exhausted because you’re depressed?” No. It is not normal for me to sleep all night and all day. In fact, when I’m severely depressed or going through a bad patch with borderline, I often don’t sleep that well, and I also function pretty normally. I get up and go to work, go to the gym, try to eat healthy and look after myself and try to maintain a social life. Even when passive suicidal thoughts are ailing me. In fact it’s the opposite. My physical health is making me depressed and affecting my mood because it’s preventing me from living my life. 

“Are you sure you don’t need to talk to someone?” No. I see someone on a regular basis, I get you’re concerned by my self-inflicted wounds, but I’m not here about that. I’m here because I’m in so much pain that I can’t breathe. And yet I get sent home without a second thought because I can’t get anyone to take me seriously because I live with mental illnesses. 

I’ve lived with mental illnesses for over 10 years. I’m used to the highs — although I mainly experience lows. I know how to manage them. I know to reach out if I’m at risk. Yes, occasionally I relapse and do stupid shit, but I pull myself together and keep living my life. I also live with chronic suicidal thoughts, but they are passive and I keep fighting each day and believing there’s hope for a better life. I just wish you would take me seriously when I come to you about my physical health, because honestly that is what is keeping me down and preventing me from living the life I want to live.

All I want is to be taken seriously. To be treated like any other person. To have answers for why I’m so sick right now so that maybe I wouldn’t have to struggle as much as I do every day, and to never feel ashamed for living with mental illness again.

Getty Images photo via emituu

Originally published: April 7, 2018
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