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A Note for Those Who Don't Accept That Mental Illness Is Real

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It terrifies me to publish any posts on mental health, but I honestly think the more people talk about it, the more it will become accepted to do so, and more people can get the support and help they need.

There are many different mental health issues and each one is experienced very differently by individuals. Mental illness cannot be generalized, ever. The opinions and experiences I talk about on my blog are my own, and although they may reflect similar opinions and experiences of others, they are in no way a generalization of those experienced by everyone struggling with their mental health.

I don’t have a problem with those who don’t understand mental illness. If I didn’t struggle with it, I’d find it hard to understand. I do, however, have an issue with those who do not accept that mental illness is real… those of you who are ignorant and will not educate yourself on the subject. We’re done with the stigma that surrounds mental health.

Here are just a few things you need to stop thinking and staying… because they’re bullshit.

“It’s all in your head.”

Hmm… no shit! Our brain is in our head… so yes, the illness is in our head… but, mental illness brings many physical symptoms, too: feeling physically exhausted, not being able to sleep, feeling sick, constant headaches, etc. Unfortunately, that’s not what you’re getting at, is it? All in your head seems to imply we’re making it up. I assure you, although the things we think, say and do may seem irrational, we are mostly aware of this, but this does not make the pain any less real.

“Stop attention seeking.”

Would you deliberately choose to exist, rather than live, just for a little attention? Would you want to live feeling mentally and physically ill (because they come as a pair)? Would you want to have the people who love and care for you in pain because they can’t bear to see you struggle? No, didn’t think so. We do not choose to live like this. The funny thing is, some of us can appear to crave attention because we are so desperate to believe we are liked, loved, cared for, so we desire constant reassurance… yet at the same time, we hate the attention, we don’t want people to treat us differently, and we do not want people to think we are attention-seeking.

“Everyone gets like this… I have felt like this.”

Everyone has down days and needs a good cry and a pajama day, everyone gets stressed, everyone has something they can’t accept about themselves, everyone gets nervous. The difference is, the vast majority of people do not experience this almost constantly, for long periods of time, often occurring throughout their lives. So yes, you may relate to the feelings and thoughts we have, but if you are not mentally ill, you do not experience the intensity of these to the same extent, to the point where they take over your life.

“You have everything to be happy for.”Some people actually do not have an awful lot, if anything, to be happy for… people actually have traumatic, distressing lives. But for a lot of people struggling, we know we have a lot to be happy for, and believe me, we are so grateful. This does not change anything, especially if you have depression. Happy things, happy thoughts, do not automatically equate to a happy mind. Please educate yourself on the many causes of mental health issues.

“How can you expect people to love you when you don’t love yourself?”

Please, stop telling us this. We may love ourselves very little, and this makes us feel even worse. It makes us fear for our worth even more. We believe you when you say this… we believe we are stuck like this, and no one will love us, when in reality, that is not true.

“But you seemed fine today.”

We have OK, sometimes good days too. Having poor mental health does not mean we must be in a bad way every moment of every day. Then there’s the days when we’re faking that we’re fine.

“There’s people worse off than you.”

Thanks for that… now we will feel even more ashamed and hide our issues, making us more vulnerable. To me, that is like suggesting that, for example, one cancer is worse than another. No, it is not. Everyone who is ill, physically, or mentally, has valid pain, the extent of which does not matter.

Now please, try to understand what we face.

Imagine battling with yourself almost constantly. Would you need to battle this stigma too?

Imagine your mind constantly talking to you, lying to you, but convincing you the thoughts and lies are true. The thoughts and lies torture you, wear you down, control your day… your life. But you continue to hide it. Making it worse. Being assured everything is OK does not make much of a difference… we often cannot be convinced of this.

We are often physically ill too.

We are exhausted, emotionally and physically.

We are ashamed, embarrassed, we often believe we’re making this all up.
>We want help, but we’re scared to ask for it.

The sad thing is, if you express your inability to accept that your brain… the chemical imbalances in there, your genetics… can make you sick to the people around you, you will never know that someone in your life is struggling because they will feel too ashamed to show or tell you.

So please, try to understand it, even just a little, because understanding helps to accept it, and people in this world can get the support and help they really need. Because the reality is, mental illness causes chaos and trauma, not just for those directly affected, but for those who love and care about them.

It affects us all.

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Image by Natalia-flurno

Originally published: October 25, 2016
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