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Analogies That Have Helped Me Explain My Mental Illness

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One of my biggest struggles with mental illness is helping my loved ones understand what is actually happening in my brain. After a long while of writing various analogies, I’ve come up with a few that seem to be helpful.

• What is PTSD?

1. Social anxiety

Social anxiety, for me, is kinda like a permanent “autocorrect.” I nickname this annoying but sometimes helpful feature of my brain “everything-correct.” “Everything-correct” insists on worrying about all of my past, present and future decisions. It makes me change who I really am, just so I can try to be like everyone else, like typing your name and getting “autocorrected” into spelling it the way someone else spells it. “Everything-correct” makes my mind run 20 mph without my legs moving an inch, day and night. I often lose control over my fear, causing me to push people away so I can try to do some more so-called “correcting.”

2. Depression

Having depression, for me, is similar to being in a cage, but instead of staying in one spot, this cage moves. A moving cage is almost worse than a non-moving cage: it gets in the way everywhere it’s moved. You have to live with the pain inside the cage with you, while still moving like there is nothing wrong. To “protect” the people you love, you keep the cage closed. Closing the cage only makes things worse because the pain keeps piling up, making the cage full. Make your cage too full, and you and your cage will fall apart.

3. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

For me, PTSD is like an invisible pen that randomly exposes its writing with unidentifiable blacklights. Different kinds of colors, smells and sounds will haunt me with flashbacks that always overstay their welcome.

4. Bipolar disorder

To me, bipolar disorder is simply like a long and confusing rollercoaster. It’s a ride that goes through manic highs, depressing lows, and strangely numb in-betweens. Bipolar disorder can make me feel on top of the world, then suddenly take away all motivation to move forward even one step.

With all of these things, I am strong… just like you.

Getty Images photo via xavigm

Originally published: January 28, 2018
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