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25 'Embarrassing' Parts of Mental Illness We Don't Talk About

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When you live with a mental health condition, you might experience some unwanted or “embarrassing” symptoms that don’t really get talked about.

Maybe you have stomach problems because of your anxiety and have to plan outings based on the nearest bathroom just in case. Maybe you can’t remember the last time you brushed your teeth because it takes too much energy when you’re feeling depressed. Or maybe you want sex all the time because you struggle with hypersexuality while manic.

You aren’t alone if you experience “embarrassing” parts of mental illness. It can be tough at first, but it’s important we talk about it to shed light on the reality of living with a mental illness. That’s why we asked our mental health community to share their “embarrassing” mental health symptoms and experiences with us.

Feeling embarrassed about something you experience is natural, and these feelings are 100% valid. We want you to know there is no shame in living with these symptoms and it’s OK if you’re not feeling OK right now. To get support from other people who really “get” what you’re going through, connect with our Mighty community by posting a Thought or Question using the hashtag #CheckInWithMe.

Here’s what our community shared with us:

1. Not Showering

“The inability to get up and do everyday hygiene like showering or brushing my teeth. I know that I need to do it and that I’ll feel better about myself if I do, but I don’t have the physical or emotional energy to get out of bed.” — Jade T.

“Poor hygiene. I probably shower once a week, maybe. It used to be my greatest shame, and it is absolutely something I’m still embarrassed about, but now that I have more friends with similar mental illnesses as me, I’ve realized I’m not the only one. I don’t know anyone as bad as me, but a few close friends told me they shower twice a week or so. Previously I’d only been around people who showered religiously, like once or twice a day, and it made me feel really embarrassed and gross.” — Taylor B.

2. Being Messy

“Not really a symptom but a result of my exhaustion is a messy house. I don’t have the energy to handle the simple task it takes to keep my house clean and organized.” — Leann F.

“My messy house! I seem to have lost all interest in keeping it clean. I have clean clothes and I always look clean and well-dressed but some weeks I can go days without showering (thank God for dry shampoo and deodorant!).” — Emma C.

3. Rocking Back and Forth

“When I get too anxious, I rock back and forth as a coping mechanism to comfort myself. People always look at me as if I’m hyperactive and need to move around, but really I am so stressed. I have to rock myself just to feel a little better. Been doing it since I was a little kid.” — Sarah M.

4. Being Unable to Get Out of Bed

“My inability to get out of bed when my anxiety and depression are in full swing. I force myself to get up for work but on the weekends I will stay in bed from Friday night until Monday morning. It can be so horrible. I will make plans with friends and bail on them. I hate it.” — Kisena A.

5. Skin Picking

“My skin picking leaves wounds on my face and I sometimes have to put [Band-Aids] (yes, even during the day) on them so they can heal, which is kinda unusual and weird.” — Anna Z.

“Skin picking, nail-biting, hair-pulling/hair twirling, not being able to socialize well with others and being on my phone as if I’m actually doing something when I’m not.” — Robin W.

6. Over-eating

“Over-eating… When my mood starts to turn, I eat like there’s no tomorrow. My weight and my physical health have taken a huge turn for the worse.” — Deziree T.

7. Fearing You Will Cry in Public

“I always feel that I have to have my ‘normal face’ on! That I can’t let anybody see the way I’m feeling! I suppress the urge to cry and if I start crying, especially in public, I have to reign myself in! It’s like I have to keep the barrier up because if I don’t everything is going to come spilling out and I won’t be able to stop it! I’m so ashamed of myself and the way I feel every day.” — Emily S.

“Crying. It’s so embarrassing. No matter what the emotion — if I get overwhelmed, sad, scared, happy, anxious, I cry. And not just a tiny tear but full-on ugly cry and the more I try to stop the harder I cry. I have been this way for decades and it’s so beyond embarrassing [because] I can’t hide my meltdown.” — Denise A.

8. Struggling to Control Emotions

“The inability to control my emotions — including anger, sadness, excitement or love. Everything is intense and outbursts usually end up being very embarrassing.” — Jessi I.

9. Needing Help With ‘Simple’ Tasks

“Not being able to do the ‘simplest’ things on your own because of anxiety. Especially when someone points it out.” — Beth S.

10. Shaking

“I get the shakes from anxiety. It’s humiliating because everyone can see it. I have a hard time with buttons or even tying shoes when it happens.” — Eileen S.

“So many more than one! But the physical symptoms like shaking and change in speech can be hard to explain.” — Jemma S.

11. Facial Spasms

“Facial tics. When I’m extremely stressed and my anxiety is high, it comes out in my face. Typically it happens in crowds or while I’m speaking to new people, which is so embarrassing for me.” — Joanna G.

“My embarrassing symptom is involuntary facial spasms. When I’m having a conversation and I start to get anxious, my facial muscles spasm causing me to stutter and make the weirdest faces.” — Sierra G.

12. Not Brushing Your Teeth

“I can’t clean my teeth. I know I should, but it takes all my energy to do it. Bursts of irrational anger, particularly if something doesn’t go to plan. Counting words out on my fingers. Always feeling lonely.” — Aimee K.

“When my depression gets bad, I stop brushing my teeth. It’s the first thing to go out the window, and the rest of my hygiene starts to go the worse it gets. I have cavities in my front teeth from this and a calcium deficiency and it makes me not want to smile anymore because they look so bad.” — Oliver T.

13. Not Making Eye Contact

“Not being able to maintain direct eye contact with whoever I’m talking to, whether I initiated the conversation or not. My mind wanders and I have a hard time, struggling to ‘look interested.’ It makes me feel (and look, most assuredly) so disingenuous.” — Teresa G.

“Struggling to make eye contact, shivering and not being able to stop it, drawing mental blanks (like being asked what my birthday is and freezing) and nervous bathroom trips.” — Shelby E.

14. Struggling to Speak

“I struggle to talk. I mess up words constantly, talk in a quieter voice and sometimes can’t even make myself speak. I will go over every word in my head before saying something to make sure I don’t mess it up and still manage to completely butcher a sentence.” — Kyle B.

“Jumbled speech, sweating, shaking (makes me feel like people will think I’m on something), loss of depth perception, ‘spacing out,’ IBS — I’m embarrassed by all my symptoms.” — Cori J.

15. Shutting Down

“I struggle with getting overwhelmed and then just shutting down. Like I know I should be studying or exercising and can’t make myself do it.” — Leah T.

16. Feeling Irritable

“Getting extremely irritated at every little thing or someone or even something or my pets. Never knowing when I’m going to explode from irritation to irrational anger and rage.” — Tabby K.

17. Not Being Able to Handle Changes in Plans

“The fact that if things don’t go exactly according to plan I completely freak out. It’s like a grown person throwing a tantrum, but I have zero control over it. It’s incredibly embarrassing.” — Allison M.

18. Speaking ‘Too Fast’ or ‘Too Slow’

“Talking fast is my embarrassing symptom of bipolar mania. No one can understand what I say. It’s both frustrating and embarrassing.” — Alexis W.

“Sometimes I speak very slowly because I’m having racing thoughts and it is so hard to concentrate on what it is I’m trying to verbally convey when so much is happening behind the scenes in my brain. I also have a hard time recalling words. It’s embarrassing. I feel so ‘stupid’ at times.” — Sarah M.

19. Fidgeting

“Fidgeting constantly. Difficulty remembering anything. Organizing constantly. Not caring what I look like.” — Sara W.

20. Sweating Constantly

“Being bipolar, I either become so depressed I neglect personal hygiene, keeping up with my home or even giving my pets enough attention. It makes me feel like a failure. But when the anxiety flares, the non-stop sweating and having an upset stomach/diarrhea are both extremely embarrassing. Having Crohn’s disease amplifies those symptoms, unfortunately.” — Melissa P.

“Medication has made me put on a lot of weight. My medication also causes extreme sweating in any weather, leaving people asking me if I’m taking drugs (non-prescription), with me trying to explain without giving too much away as I’m quite a private person in that respect.” — Lauren E.

21. Experiencing ‘Brain Fog’

“My brain fog’s up and I feel like I can’t process anything anymore. I end up scared and screaming from how overwhelmed it makes me. It’s embarrassing when it happens in public. My peers don’t understand and they just assume I’m ‘crazy.’ I really can’t help it.” — Nynaeve B.

22. Having Stomach Issues

“Stomach problems. During extreme anxiety, it can flare up horribly and would render me unable to leave my bathroom. I would feel so incredibly nauseous that I can’t even consider the thought of drinking water. It’s times like this that I just have to lay down for a while and focus on nothing but breathing. It’s so debilitating and embarrassing.” — Arlo R.

“My meds make me a sweaty, swollen, hot-flashing mess. It makes my eyes incredibly sensitive to light. I’m practically allergic to the sun at this point.” — Kate K.

23. Not Remembering Things

“I’ve been through two rounds of ECT for my depression, and the forgetting is so hard. I was talking to my sister-in-law over the weekend, and I realized I don’t have any memories of her wedding. I felt so ashamed not to remember her big day.” — Ashleigh A.

24. Isolating

“‘Ghosting’ people for days or weeks and having to make up for it later on when I feel like I can be social again. It’s hard to maintain friendships when depression hits.” — Jessica W.

25. ‘Freezing’

“When I ‘freeze.’ It’s worse than fight or flight. I can’t do anything. I feel stuck and afraid. Like a deer in headlights.” — Sheree B.

Everyone’s mental health journey looks different, but if you can relate to any of these “embarrassing” parts of life with mental illness, you aren’t alone. It may feel difficult at first, but being open about your experiences with trusted loved ones and professionals can help you live well with mental illness.

If you don’t feel comfortable talking about your “embarrassing” symptoms with friends or family just yet — or you need help figuring out what to say — you can always post a Thought or Question to The Mighty community using the hashtag #CheckInWithMe. You will be met with nothing but support.

Originally published: September 17, 2019
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