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To the People Who Don't Believe My Mental Illness

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Editor's Note

If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

The truth is, sometimes I don’t either.

I’ve been on medications, been to therapists, doctors…you name it. But I don’t really talk to anyone about that unless I am very close to them.

• What is PTSD?

I get it. You see someone who constantly misses class and work shifts, who is always in sweats, never does her hair and apparently knows how to do makeup, but never puts any on. You see someone who is always with her friends and seems fine. You might think, “She probably has just as much ability as everyone else, but she’s just too lazy to use it.”

Sometimes I think that too.

When I am laying in bed in the morning — and I can’t explain it but I cannot get up — I am anxious and worried about everything that I will have to accomplish in the next 15 hours. It’s all going through my head at once and all I want to do is close my eyes and try to fall back asleep. “Maybe I will accidentally miss today. All of it…that is the solution.”

When my chest gets tight and I leave work after only 30 minutes and sit on my bedroom floor. “What is wrong? I don’t know… I don’t know, but I am rocking back and forth and I am afraid to stand up because I think it may get worse.”

Sometimes at night I sit on my bed trying to talk myself out of a panic attack, or flashback, I am really not sure and then I start thinking:

“Is this even real? Am I faking? Can I just stop doing this? It would be so much easier on everyone if I would just stop.”

Those were the last thoughts I remembered from last night before I heard my best friend say my name, tell me that I am OK, to take deep breaths and ask if she could hug me.

I understand why you may not believe me, because sometimes I don’t believe me either.

Sometimes I wake up with so much determination to get to class that I will just sit in my bed until the anxiety passes…and then it doesn’t. Today I took a prescribed sedative (that I usually take to help calm me down at night) to get me out of bed and it worked. After sitting in bed and shaking for 30 minutes, I got up, swallowed the pill and sat under my weighted blanket for a few minutes waiting for it to kick in. I was hopeful it would help me be able to get up and fight through the day and it freaking worked. I got up. I made myself a latte. Today I put makeup and real clothes on, and wore my hair down for the first time all semester.

This is not meant to be a celebration of pharmaceutical drugs, but it was a confirmation to me that something in my brain is actually messed up and when I am able to correct it, I am able to be the person that I know I am (or how I have been referring to her lately, “used to be.”) I took something that calmed me down and I was not lazy. I chose to get up, get ready and take on the day, just like I want to do.

I don’t blame you for not believing me because sometimes I don’t believe it either, but that actually adds fuel to the fire that is raging wild in my brain. This is real. It’s not an excuse to be less than my potential. It is an obstacle that forces me to fight harder just to get up and dressed in the morning. It is not a crutch that I cling to to get out of doing hard things. It is a voice in my head that says that everything is hard and if I can’t overcome everything all in one moment, nothing is worth doing at all and I might as well kill myself. But if I do that, then I will hurt everyone I love and I can’t do this and I can’t do that and before I know it I am in a ball on my floor seeing scenes of my past, feeling like I am being choked and slammed against the wall, hearing the voice of my abuser screaming and telling me that he is going to kill me.

All at once. All in a moment.

In reality I am just laying on my bedroom floor. I am safe. I just need to go to work, that’s all, no big deal. I just need to finish that homework assignment. I am safe and loved and there’s no need to be worked up right now. I am OK. But for some reason, this is what my mind does.

Please don’t tell me I’m lazy, because I am fighting battles that no one ever sees. Every day, whether I show up or not, a battle has been fought, is being fought, or will be very soon. It is not something that I can switch on and off or use to my own convenience (it’s actually quite hellish, so I don’t know why I would do that), but it is a very real part of my life right now and I need patience, forgiveness and understanding from those I love and also from myself.

I’m not lazy. I’m not faking. I do care.  This is real. One day, I’m gonna be better.

Photo credit: fizkes/Getty Images

Originally published: March 16, 2019
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