If you look my stories here, please check out my website, https://thingscarlalovesofficial.wordpress.com/. I have a post EVERY Wednesday on specific mental and physical health problems.
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I’ve been fairly vocal about what it’s like to live with 5 Ways Depression Is Worse Than You Think#Depression and a thoughtcatalog.com/carla-robinson/2017/03/5-things-you-dont-...#Anxietythoughtcatalog.com/carla-robinson/2017/03/5-things-you-dont-..., as well as thoughtcatalog.com/carla-robinson/2017/03/what-its-like-havi.... I’ve even discussed the fact that months of thingscarlalovesofficial.wordpress.com/2018/03/12/some-girls-are combined with a severe and debilitating physical illness thoughtcatalog.com/carla-robinson/2017/12/the-attempted-suic....However, I have never really openly spoken about how it felt, or what I was thinking, as I lay in my bedroom dying.For the longest time, I didn’t think my thoughts or feelings in that moment were necessary or important to share – after all, they were largely irrational (clouded by the illusions of mental illness) and incoherent (tends to happen when you down a large dosage of tablets).Now, I want to be clear: I am not naming what I took, because this is not a how-to guide. It’s the opposite – because, as the medicine started to really take hold of my body, I realised something I never had before – not in my previous #Suicide attempts, nor in my constant self-harming – I did not want to die.Not really.I wanted everything to end, to stop, but as my heart began to race and beat erratically, as hallucinations from the overdose set in, as my breathing shallowed, I realised that wanting everything to stop is not the same as wanting to die.Which is why I’ve realised that I need to share this story – because it’s important to know that even in the darkest depths of hell, there is hope.At first, after I carefully researched the medication I had, and calculated what I would need to overdose (and then doubled it, so there would be no tomorrows like the time before), I felt truly peaceful.I felt a blissful happiness seep over my entire body as I was comforted in the knowledge that there was going to be nothing.No more pain, as I tried desperately to reconcile some form of understanding as to why my former friends had not only chosen to abandon me in my hour of need, but had actively started a hate-filled mission to destroy me, telling anyone who would listen that not only was I faking being ill, but thoughtcatalog.com/carla-robinson/2018/06/i-forgive-you-the-....No more pain, as I tried desperately to recover my reputation that had been so easily shattered at the hands of cruel and malicious people who hated me so vehemently.No more pain from my #ChronicIllness, that doctors and specialists (at the time) were still working to try and identify.No more pain as I grieved for the life I’d lost when I’d fallen ill, as I desperately tried to cling to who I was before I became ill.In those moments, I was not thinking of my (now) husband’s reaction – nor his #Grief upon discovering that his fiancée had finally decided to take her life while he lay sleeping.I did wonder, in vain, if the people who had done this to me, who had bullied me, harassed me, gaslit me, excluded me, ostracised me, lied to me, and had made sure with every fibre of their being, that I believed that I was worthless, would regret their actions.Let me be clear: I did not try and take my life that night – or any before it – as a form of revenge or any other grand delusion I might have had. As I lay dying, I simply wondered if they’d finally understand the pain and utter despair that they had intentionally and willingly caused me.I wondered if they’d reflect upon their actions and omissions and admit – if only to themselves – that they were, at least, partly responsible.I also wondered if they’d be happy to learn I’d taken my life. After all, they had wanted me gone. They had made every effort to convince my partner to leave me, and they had made sure I wasn’t welcome in the town I’d lived for four years.I couldn’t help but think that, in a way, they would have everything they had wanted, as they’d done their very best to erase me, to pretend I was never their friend in the first place.This would just make their desires permanent.And then, as the physical effects of the medicine I’d taken started to become more obvious, a new emotion started to set it: Loss.I started thinking about the honeymoon I was meant to be taking that year.I started to feel sadness at the idea that my carefully planned honeymoon would never take place – and I’d never get to visit all the places I’d dreamed of for years.And then, just as suddenly, another memory came into focus – how very excited I’d been to see Jurassic World.And how that would now never happen.You may be sitting there thinking, “Really? That’s what popped into your mind? Not the people you love?”And while you’re partly right, you’re mostly wrong.For the first time in what seemed like an eternity, I suddenly wasn’t thinking of the end.I was envisioning my future.Those small things, however shallow and ridiculous they may seem to you, started to plague my thoughts.Those two things allowed fear – and hope – to take place where only grief and despair had once been.It gave me the chance to consider everything I was giving up – and everyone.It allowed light to grow where only darkness had been.And that light gave me the strength to turn to my fiancé and wake him and tell him what I’d done.Without those thoughts breaking through, reminding me of the possibilities the future – my future – could hold, I may not be here.For all those out there, struggling as I once was, please remember this: Even in your darkest hour, this is always hope.Sometimes it just exists in the smallest of ways, hiding in the weirdest of places.www.facebook.com/melodramaticconfessionsofcarlalouisewww.instagram.com/thingscarlalovestwitter.com/carlalouise01
I’ve written before about thoughtcatalog.com/carla-robinson/2017/03/what-its-like-havi... and not being believed about my invisible illnesses. Anyone that shares a fate similar to mine – be it a mental, physical or both – knows exactly what I mean: We’re used to the constant stares of disbelief and the snide remarks of, “It can’t be that bad.”And, for a really, really long time, I was angry.To be honest, angry doesn’t even begin to become close to how I felt.I was angry at the girls in my old home town who made my life a living hell because they chose to spread rumours about me suffering from Munchhausen’s (because, in their minds, it was What I Hear When People Make Comments Doubting My Illness.I was furious that my so-called friends would actively try and convince others that I was ingesting poisons in order to make myself sick.I was livid when I discovered that the more lies they told, the more of my friends believed them.I was devastated when people thoughtcatalog.com/carla-robinson/2017/12/the-attempted-suic..., or believe me, when I tried telling them what was happening.I hated the fact that I’d have to explain to the same people, over and over and over and over and over again, that no, my condition means that I When I'm Asked, 'But Don't You Want to Get Better?'.I was pissed that despite repeating this information, I’d still hear about what I wasn’t doing or wasn’t doing right to ‘get better’.I disliked that people with no medical expertise believed they knew better than countless doctors and specialists.I can’t even begin to describe how angry I was – because I was angry at almost everyone.I was angry at those that didn’t believe; I was angry at those that told people I had Munchhausen’s in an act of cruelty that I still can’t wrap my head around; I was angry when my friends – one even being my bridesmaid – believed these people over me and never thought to question it; I was angry when people did believe, but simply thought I wasn’t trying hard enough to ‘get better’; but mostly, I was angry at the world, because it wasn’t fair.After all, I never wanted to be sick.However, I began to realise something so important: This anger, this resentment, this fury that I was allowing to build up inside – it was only affecting me. The people who told everyone I had Munchhausen’s? Yeah, they’re shitty people. But you know what?Life is full of shitty people.And then I started to let go. I started to let go of how many people betrayed me, so willingly, without any real cause, for me.So, for all those out there that participated, I forgive you.I forgive you for telling people that I had Munchhausen’s.I forgive you for believing that I had Munchhausen’s.I forgive you for not listening to me when I needed you to.I forgive you for not believing me when I needed you.I forgive you – for the stuff I know, and for the stuff you did that I’ll never know about, because it’s not about you.Forgiving you, letting go of all the anger I carried with me, was never about you. Forgiving you doesn’t make what you did any less shitty.It just means that I can move on with my life, and find the peace and joy I truly deserve.
#ButDon'tYouWantToGetBetter: Your Shame Makes It Harder
I’ve written more times than I can count about how #Depression is an all-consuming black hole that does nothing but tear, rip and eat, indifferent to the prey it devours. My PTSD symptoms make me want to avoid places and people that pose triggers – and I don’t even know all of my triggers yet. Honestly.For example, I watched Mommy Dead and Dearest as a documentary on HBO, and I was thoroughly horrified, though I thought it was a good documentary. I was just mostly shocked at what Gypsy Rose went through, and utterly bewildered at how her mother, Dee Dee, had convinced medical doctors her daughter was sick and needed surgeries they knew she didn’t need.
Like, fuck, I don’t even understand how that’s possible. I really wish I did, considering I’ve almost died because of doctors not listening to me, but I don’t get it.
But watching the TV show, The Act?
That messed me up. I don’t know why, but it wouldn’t stop triggering memories of my past, when I’d been accused of having Munchhausen’s, and I was watching with revulsion and repugnance that my actual friends somehow believed I could do to myself what the mother was doing to her children. It tortured me, and I was overwhelmed with memories of the distant past.
Despite it being the same topic, watching it as a drama mini-series had a very different effect on my mental state than watching a documentary. I wouldn’t have suspected I’d have any triggers, because I was able to watch Mommy Dead and Dearest completely unaffected.
Regardless of having the privilege of precognition, many mental illnesses have, at times, unavoidable triggers.Those that suffer from mental illnesses will tell you that they want happiness if they’re depressed; they don’t want to worry if they’re anxious; they wish they weren’t so emotional if they’re bi-polar; and so on and so forth. People who are mentally ill don’t want to be mentally ill; they don’t want to be trapped in a mind that holds them hostage from the world. They don’t want to live in a world of trepidation, wary of every nook and cranny, scared of shadows and whispers. More often than not, especially during specific episodes, mentally ill people have no control over their desires, and our desires often conflict with what we’re projecting, saying or thinking. We know this.We know some of our behaviour is, at times, irrational. We know that some of our behaviour is counter-intuitive.
We know that our anxieties often lead to predictions that wouldn’t have come if we’d never obsessed over every, single, tiny, insignificant detail.We know that letting go, moving on, being happy, going for walks, doing yoga, whatever your suggestion is, is the right thing.But that doesn’t change the fact that this is a mental illness. It’s not controllable, just the way the spread of #Cancer isn’t controllable.
Oh, you can’t do that? Are you sure? It’s not exactly a hard task. Why don’t you just do it?
Are you even trying to be happy ? You know, if you really cared about …You’re being ridiculous. It’s not that bad.
You know what I’m talking about. That shame, the humiliation, the burden that comes when someone points out that you’re not doing enough, when you’re giving it your all, is debilitating.
You mightn’t see it, but for some of us, it can take spoons just to eat.It can take spoons just to sit up right.It can take spoons just to speak. Sometimes, it can take spoons to even breathe. Sometimes, a good day involves lying around, binge-watching Netflix, and just feeling a little sleepy or down, but mostly okay, and you’re able to do a few chores, and you’re not vomiting or crying hysterically on that particular day.Hey, when you’re chronically ill, you’ve got to celebrate the small things – you start to realise just how much they actually matter.
Sometimes we definitely can do more – I doubt I’m the first person who’s used my #ChronicIllness as an excuse, even if it’s warranted – but it can become easy to fall into that trap, repeating the excuse instead of seeking the help you need.But the thing is, we’re already twisted with shame. Shame keeps us chained to our beds. Shame imprisons our minds. Shame changes our realities. Shame convinces us we’re worthless. The only thing you successfully do when you use shame as a weapon is remind us of what we already believe.
An excerpt from Sex, Marriage and Lies: I Got Hit By A Train, It’s Kind of the Same:
What happens when you ignore someone who has repeatedly told you they’re depressed.
That group of friends, on more than one occasion, witnessed my husband put my health as a lower priority than his social outings. I remember a friend volunteering to stay with me during a particularly bad #Asthma episode – I was having asthma attacks every few minutes, and having trouble trying to get my breathing properly under control – when someone said to my husband, ‘Why is my girlfriend going to spend the night with yourgirlfriend?’ before my partner thought that maybe he should be the one sleeping next to me, to make sure that if I couldn’t breathe through the night, someone could make sure my emergency inhalers were easily accessible (anyone with asthma knows what it’s like waking up and not being able to breathe, blindly reaching for your beside, frantically trying to grab your inhaler as darkness starts taking over).It’s the realisation that the one person I told I was raped was my bridesmaid who betrayed me, who actively encouraged the rumours that I had Munchhausen’s, that believed others over me.It’s the realisation that I came to her, the first person I ever told (I didn’t tell Scott until after we’d been married at it slipped out; I had already told him about a previous experience, and to say “I wasn’t dealing well” was the understatement of the century) and she betrayed me.(Let me be clear: I have no idea what she said, or didn’t say, about my confession. I have no idea if she went and told the others, and that became another ‘lie’ that convinced them I somehow had Munchhausen’s, or if she never said anything at all. The night I told her, her and her partner were staying with us, and I was getting ready for a school event. I told her about it, and I told her how badly I was struggling, how ill I was, how I wasn’t getting better, how scared I was, that I’d been raped, that everything was falling apart, but I had to go to a school event, and I wasn’t ready to share more. So yeah, I have no idea what she said, or didn’t say. What I am saying is that, I told my bridesmaid all of this, and she still fucking betrayed me.)After that betrayal, after confiding in her about what had happened, and after realising I meant nothing to her, it broke me.It took my psychologist a year to get me to say, out loud, the words, ‘I was raped’, because after my bridesmaid betrayed me, I could only say it if it came out accidentally. I’d either try and start the sentence and I’d go temporarily mute – literally – or I’d just start crying, and I would become so distressed the psychologist would have to calm me down. (So yeah, just saying, it can be really fucking damaging how people choose not to handle situations sometimes.)
Despite not being given an opportunity to have any say in anything that had transpired – I was expected to be extremely grateful because of the help, which I would have been, if it had been offered and not forced, especially when I hadn’t even been given a day to properly speak to my husband to even understand our circumstances before I could properly answer their questions.They’d question my spending habits, and every time they’d discover I wasn’t as frivolous with money as they seemed to expect, they kept adding extra accounts because ‘I’d need the money’ and I ‘wasn’t properly calculating my expenditures’.I then had to endure long lectures about budgeting and all sorts of things – even though I’d only just learnt the problem, and the person that needed the lectures about budgeting wasn’t me, it was my husband.Don’t get me wrong – I support my husband completely, and we are a team. That debt is and was as much mine as it was his, and paying money off for a debt – regardless of who accumulated it – was irrelevant.But why am I constantly expected to pay for his mistakes?During that time period, I sold a lot of things. I sold some of my jewellery, and a bunch of clothes.I sold most of my wedding items, including my wedding dress, which is featured on every one of these posts.The week I sold my wedding dress, the person who wanted it was haggling for a cheaper price, asking for extra things, but I couldn’t say no to her low offer.We needed groceries, and we didn’t have any.Groceries were, and still are, more important to me than any dress.And so is my husband.I can’t imagine what I wouldn’t do for him, especially knowing everything I’ve already done, and sacrificed, for the man I love.I am not perfect, but nor is he.I don’t want anyone to hate him.But I do have a question for everyone reading it – and it is rhetorical but you can answer if you really want – why do we, as a society, keep doing this to women?Why do we keep expecting women to be their partner’s keepers?Why are women expected to take a pound of flesh for their husband’s sins, and also keep quiet when taking the sacrifice?Why is talking about the inequality and unfairness ‘hysterical’, ‘emotional’, or ‘sharing too much’?Why does demanding that my partner treat me with basic respect translate to abuse?Why does everyone throw the fact that I’m sick in my face, but not a single person throws my husband’s affair in his?Why is it the majority of our friends have flocked to my husband’s inbox, and not mine, expressing your concerns for him?What made you run to him after you read that he cheated on me for eight months?Did you think that he would be surprised by this news?What makes you run to my husband’s parents, sharing stories that aren’t true, or twisting things that didn’t happen the way that you say that they did because the truth is a little bit too inconvenient?Why are you so afraid of the fact that I’m not afraid of speaking out about what’s happened to me, how I coped, and what I went through?Do any of you really think that after a year of being bullied, harassed, abused, ignored, raped, abandoned, isolated, and on my fucking death bed, talking about what I went through would be the hard part?The hard part already happened – I went through it alone.People like my bridesmaid ensured that – by informing me that www.harnessmagazine.com/the-friendship-breakupwhile telling everyone else it ‘was definitely Munchhausen’s’.Why do you worry about my husband, but you don’t care that I suffer from PTSD – which isn’t easy to diagnose, by the way, but the same people never once stopped to ask “What the fuck have you been through to get PTSD?”It’s okay, I honestly don’t want to hear any opinions from anyone I know. Those that I love are in my inboxes. I don’t mean this is a dig, or a jibe, or anything of the sort; it’s not mean to be some passive-aggressive slight: I’m trying to make it slightly personal in order to help you consider the wider picture (your actual loved ones, who may or may not be struggling with unknown tolls in their lives). If this appears as a pathetic passive-aggressive dig, I do apologise, because that is not the point I’m trying to make, and I cannot make this clearer.I want everyone, especially the people I loved, to know that I know I have people. People, from all parts of my life, have made me feel loved in some way. It’s been a comment, a heart, a ‘I’m so sorry you’re going through this’, a message in my DMs asking if I’m okay ‘because I just read your post’.I know those people are there. I love those people. If you didn’t send me anything, or comment, this isn’t about you, and it isn’t to make you feel guilty. Each one of you, if you are really truly my friend (and a few nice surprises out there, too, of people I know but don’t know-know, who reach out and check in. One amazing woman that comes to mind immediately is a young woman named Tiffany who I went to high school with. I haven’t really seen her around that much since high school, but we’ve been Facebook friends since Facebook pretty much existed, and she’s the type of person who not only asks “Hey, I’m a little worried about you, are you okay?” but genuinely wants to know the answer, not the brush-off response most people are hoping to hear. So please, I feel very loved at the moment, and I do not want anyone to get the wrong message here – although I know it’s a difficult tightrope to balance).It’s about something far bigger than that, and if you bear with me, hopefully I’ll make it clearer.To be frank, the people I’m talking about have never left. Even if one of those people didn’t directly ask me, they have other ways of communicating with me, with checking in on me, something that establishes itself in stronger relationships.I am not saying anyone has let me down.Yet, some of you watch and read, as lie after lie has been revealed … and you still pick my husband.So tell me, again, how women don’t suffer? Tell me again that things like www.harpersbazaar.com/culture/features/a12063822/emotional-l... is just a myth?Tell me again we don’t prioritize men’s feelings over women’s lives.Some of you can’t, because you’ve already been doing it.Some of you have read about how my personal life has been dealt blow after blow, read the agony and pain and desperation in my words, and then you’ve gone and contacted one of the people responsible for it.I’m not asking anyone to start contacting me now – please don’t. I have the people I want in my life, the people I can turn to when I need to, and I’m happy with that. I do not feel unloved, depressed, or like I have no one to turn to. I have plenty of people in my life, constantly reminding me of this, in their own unique ways. People don’t have to say “I love you” for you to know that they do. My husband hates social media, but because a social media profile is important for writing, he always tries to share my posts. That means, every time he shares a post, he’s saying ‘I love you’, because he’s only logging into Facebook to share to the world how proud he is of me.So please, if you’re sitting there and you’re like, ‘Fuck, I never asked! And I’m meant to be Carla’s friend!’, I probably already know. Like Scott hating Facebook, “I love you” can come in many forms.Seriously.I’ve been slowly removing large amounts of people out of my life that have been hugelytoxic for me, and I’ve only kept them because I’ve been under this delusion of being the “good girl”, without stopping to consider how me putting everyone else constantly forward is destroying my mental and physical health.I’m not asking anyone to start contacting my husband because they might feel guilty – definitely don’t. That’s not the point I’m making, and anyone sending messages to check up on my husband, thank you. I really do mean that. He needs it. He’s been through hell and back, and he needs to be reminded of that. Things have not been easy for him, and he needs all the love he can get.I want him to get all the love he can get.He is a beautiful, kind, sincere, generous man, and he’s never had a year as rough as this one. He needs love. If you know Scott, you know how much he loves physical affection.I’m not asking you to take away love – I’m asking how many of you considered giving it to both people, and how many of you selectively chose just my husband.I want you to question how many of you that know me that sought me out.I want you to question – seriously question – a lot of your ideals, and if you really mean what you say when you share all those statuses stating that “Your home is always open”.Because for the past few weeks, many of you have been proving a different points I’ve been trying to make in my thingscarlalovesofficial.wordpress.com/2018/12/11/whyididntr... and my thingscarlalovesofficial.wordpress.com/2018/12/13/stopblamin... posts: That women’s lives have got to start mattering more than men’s feelings.And yet, you’re doing it.You’re already siding with a man.You’re already seeking out his feelings.How many of you updated your profiles, baring the statement: “Speak even if your voice shakes”, following Dolly Everett’s #Suicide?
Do you not see the irony that you’re so willing to be so supportive of an already deceased girl, but a woman suffering from at the hands of some of you reading this, and the first person you contact is … not the victim?
“I know that people don’t get crazy enough to kill someone without first being crazy enough for someone to notice. How many times did you go out for a drink because she was crying? How many times did you stay at work because you couldn’t listen to her telling you what a bad mother she is? You were relieved. When she shut down, you just sat staring for hours at a time. She held the pillow over his head. You slept while she went nuts.” – Dr Gregory House, “Forever”
How many of you discuss “#MentalHealth Awareness” each year? Share statements about your support for “R U OK?” day?And how many of you, right now, know that I’m a victim of such extreme, on-going bullying and harassment that I have as a result, and the person you’re asking if they’re okay is not the actual victim?How many of you ask, every time someone does, “Why does this happen?” and “Did anyone know?”, and yet, you still aren’t asking the victim.You wonder why women can’t leave violent relationships, or why women don’t report, or why www.theguardian.com/stage/video/2018/dec/07/hannah-gadsby-ta... speech gets so much attention, but you also don’t want to face the consequences of refusing to deal with that reality – because this reality is bigger than me. This reality isn’t to get people flooding the comment section or giving me oodles of sympathy, and definitely do not attack my husband. Seriously. I go to war for people I love, and if that’s the vibe you’re getting, I’m giving you the wrong vibe. So stop.The point is to get you to think about why we care more about men’s feelings than women’s lives.
You’re ignoring the damage society keeps inflicting on women under the guise of what’s expected, because you can’t pretend like society doesn’t demand women sacrifice for their male counterparts.And then you’re blaming women, and protecting men, in every single aspect – and then shaming them when they aren’t giving enough.Like I said, don’t answer, I don’t want it to be about me. Don’t get pissy. Don’t justify why you did or why you didn’t contact.If you have been there for me, I know it, and there isn’t anything to say – I already know you love me, and you already know I love you.If you haven’t, there’s a good chance it’s because you don’t know me very well, so why the fuck would you? Even if you like me, that can be a complicated and difficult conversation, and you’ve got your own shit going on.More than half of you reading this article currently will have much bigger shit than me going on, so it’s cool.And whatever you do, please don’t make this about you, or feel guilty, or whinge, because that’s not the point, and I encourage you to go listen to some music, calm down, and re-read the article and then if you think I’m not being clear, constructively explain where and why, because I want to get this message right. Just don’t make it about you.Just think: Do you actually mean it when you share Dolly’s image, declaring “Speak, even if your voice shakes”? When you say “R U Ok?” Do you stand by your convictions, and support those in need? Do you actually reach out, and extend a hand, when you can? Do you actually support people with mental or physical illnesses/syndromes/disabilities, and try to make adjustments for those people in your life? Do you stand up to bullying, remember Dolly’s face and your strong declaration to “speak”? Do you admit when you are wrong, and genuinely apologise? Do you promise to “care” for others, while deliberately trying to harm some? Do you actually actively listen when someone says they have a problem? Do you consider the potential, real-world consequences for something you mark as “cruel gossip”? If your loved one is being targeted, do you defend them?Or do you curate an image on social media, without any intention of actually practicing what you pretend to preach?It’s easy pretending to be perfect.It’s a lot harder to admit when we know we could have been doing better.www.facebook.com/melodramaticconfessionsofcarlalouisewww.instagram.com/thingscarlalovestwitter.com/carlalouise01
I’m not entirely sure if it’s possible to put what #Depression feels like into words for someone who is neurotypical, and has never experienced depression before.It’d be easy to say that depression is you experiencing the worst day you’ve ever had of your entire life, but over and over and over again, like a fucked up version of Groundhog Day. Something a lot more like Happy Death Day. Before everything happened, I had some bad days.In high school, I even thought I had for a bit. (I didn’t. I was just a super hormonal teenager because I had #Endometriosis, so I felt things differently, and I’d get a period twice a month for about eighteen months before my first surgery. While my hormones increased after taking the pill – I remember screaming at my poor brother more times than I can count – eventually, everything settled down. That does not mean a child or teenager cannot be suffering – they frequently do, and we as a society frequently dismiss it ‘because that’s what being a teen is’, and then we wonder why we have such high #Suicide rates.)But, since thingscarlalovesofficial.wordpress.com/2019/02/20/broken-sha..., I’ve learnt that is far more sinister than that.It’s a black hole, in the middle of the left side of your chest, right where your heart should be.It’s feeling like every step you take is walking through shards of broken glass.It’s not being able to breathe because you’ve suddenly been sucked into a vacuum vortex, solitary in deep space.It’s the morning, dark fog that grips towns and cities during the coldest winters, enveloping them, hiding them, leaving an unsettling feeling of malaise on everyone until the fog dissipates.It’s the icy cold fingers of dread, spreading like spiderwebs from the pit of your stomach, wrapping around you, making you dread’s prey.It’s the curse of invisibility, the one that afflicts everyone who has , because society wants to turn a blind eye while asking, ‘But don’t you want to get better? You just need to try harder’, but no one ever wants to reach out, lending a hand, to help you get better.Because that’s the curse of invisibility: You’re seen, but you’re never seen.It’s the helplessness of knowing that a Category 5 cyclone is about to hit the coast, but you live near the beach, so there’s not a damn thing you can do but hope your entire life isn’t destroyed, as the rain and wind crashes and thunders around you.It’s the hopelessness of everything going wrong, and nothing being in your control, as if someone removed the brakes of your car and no matter how hard you press, you cannot stop in time for that red light, because your car just seems to want to go faster, no matter how much you’re willing it to stop.It’s the fear you’ve carried with you since you were a child: That something really is in the dark, waiting to eat you, to hurt you, to cause you pain.The fear of the unknown, lurking just out of sight, but ever present, so you can feel its sharp eyes on you.It’s #Tinnitus, that sharp, painful ringing you get in your ears sometimes, making it hard to hear everyone around you.It’s your nerves being flayed, all separately, all dramatically, with the entire purpose to make you feel like every single fibre of your body is in so much pain it’s literally on fire.I know I could tell you that it’s about feeling sad, and hopeless, and worthless, and useless, but it’s much more than that.It’s far more powerful than that.It distorts and twists and shreds and rips and cuts.It alters perception and reality.It’s a disease that claims the lives of around 3,000 Australians each year, but one that infects 65,000 other Australians whose lives are saved before they can be claimed.It’s a disease roughly three fucking million Australians currently live with.And yet, despite these high mortality rates, despite the long, cold spiderwebs enclosing your body; it’s the feeling of someone reaching inside your mouth and ripping out your vocal chords so you can never speak again; it’s the black hole that was once your heart – despite all of this, it’s never taken seriously.Men need to ‘toughen up’ and ‘stop being pussies’.Women need to stop ‘being so sensitive’ and ‘overly dramatic’.And that’s not getting into the trauma or abuse that others face, and have faced, and may continue to face.Despite being a serious mental illness with literally fatal consequences, it isn’t treated as such.But it needs to be.When that thick, dark, fog starts enveloping your loved one, take their hand, and tell them, ‘We’re in it together, babe.’ (Be affectionate with your friends. And babe can work for any gender fluidity.)When the black hole takes your friend’s heart, bring them their favourite food and favourite movie and just watch it together, curled up on the couch, under a blanket, and let your friend know that you’re not afraid of the black hole, no matter how bleak it currently looks.When asking, ‘How are you?’, listen for the person’s response. We all say ‘I’m fine’ far more times than it’s true, and it doesn’t hurt to say, ‘Hey, I love you and you just seem a little bit off lately. I know you said everything was fine, but I just wanted to double-check. Are you sure you’re okay?’Because even if we don’t tell you – or even just you specifically, but are seeing someone for help – you’ve already given us a gift we can’t repay: You reversed our curse of invisibility. You made sure we were seen, even if we didn’t want to be.It’s you, chanting your friend on, saying how tough they are, walking through all those shards of broken glass, comparing them to Bruce Willis in Die Hard so they know how tough and brave you think we are.Depression is so many things, but it’s more than words.And if there’s words to describe , then I don’t know them, because I only know what it feels like.But I also know that you are the key.I know that you can be a deciding factor in someone’s .I know that you can be the hero or the villain.So be George Clooney in that crappy Gravity movie and use up all your shit to save Sandra Bullock in the vacuum of space, and bring your friend back home.www.facebook.com/melodramaticconfessionsofcarlalouisewww.instagram.com/thingscarlalovestwitter.com/carlalouise01
Today, I was talking to someone close to me. They asked if they’d woken me up — which they had. Despite the fact it was almost 7 at night, my chronic fatigue means I can’t control when I fall asleep. I’d fallen asleep at around 5 p.m., I think, but I’m not really sure. It wasn’t planned. Like it always does, it just happens. It’s not controllable. Chronic fatigue means I’m constantly tired. And I constantly fall asleep. Seriously. One time I went to sleep at Disneyland. Anyway, I could tell the person I was talking to was annoyed — they’ve made it clear more than once that they feel I can somehow control this despite the fact I’ve had this diagnosis for over a year; despite the fact I’ve had five sleep studies to get the results, among other countless tests. And then I realized what bothered me about this conversation. It wasn’t that this person still thinks I can control what happens, nor is it the fact they don’t really believe me. And if you’re sick, whether it’s mentally or physically, you’ll know what I mean; they “believe” you, but at the same time, they don’t. I mean, are you sure you haven’t tried a new diet? Are you sure you can’t do this? Are you sure? No, what I realized — after I raged and cried after the phone call — was that it wasn’t the lack of belief, or even the lack of support, that bothered me. It wasn’t even the fact that this person is extremely close to me. So close, in fact, I’m deliberately not mentioning their name. It’s what the not-believing implies. It implies this is a life I want. It implies I’m OK with being so tired that going to the bathroom is torture. That sometimes, I’m so tired, I wait until my stomach bloats and cramps and I can’t hold it in anymore because I’m so tired I’m struggling to work out how to make it the 15 steps to my bathroom. It implies I’m OK with the fact that sometimes, I’m actually too tired to watch anything. Not read, not write, not workout, not eat… but I can’t even watch something mind-numbingly boring on TV because I’m literally too tired to keep my eyes open. It implies I’m OK with being dependent on others. It implies I’m OK with a lifestyle of living day-to-day, hoping tomorrow will be a good day. And that’s bullshit. No one would choose this life. No one. No one wants to be so tired it hurts to move. No one wants to be so tired that they wait until they can’t physically hold in their bladder anymore because they’re too tired to move. No one wants to be so tired that watching TV is a chore. We aren’t talking about being lazy: my god, what I would give for me to be lazy. We are talking about a life I actively hate. I have a good life, but my daily activities is dependent on whether I’m too tired to move or not. That’s not a life. I get that I have an invisible illness. I get that you can’t see it. I get that I’m not alone and that others have it just as bad, or even worse than I do. But before you don’t believe someone, before you start to pass judgment, think about what you’re saying: Would you want this as your life? Would you want to spontaneously fall asleep, having no control over yourself? Would you want your life to be spent sleeping ? No? Neither do I. So before you pass judgment, before you make the asinine assumption this is a choice or something I want (or anyone else wants), stop. Please. For the love of god, stop. No one would want this. No one would ask for this. Stop pretending like it’s a choice.
Woman Says People Constantly Tell Her That She Doesn’t ‘Look Sick’
I have chronic fatigue syndrome (CF), which is also called myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), endometriosis and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). On top of these three “invisible illnesses,” I also have two mental illnesses : clinical depression and a severe anxiety disorder, which was brought on by a traumatic experience . As a result, I constantly hear the words: “But you don’t look sick.” Sometimes, I’m sure it’s meant as an accusation. In case you think I’m being paranoid, it’s actually true. If you’ve read my post, “ Some Girls Are ,” you’re aware of the fact that I actually had some supposedly “close” friends abandon me soon after I fell ill. For some people, I guess, it’s only OK to be ill for so long, otherwise you’re labelled as a “drama queen.” “But you don’t look sick.” Sometimes those that utter this phrase truly believe it’s a compliment. They’re my friends and my family members, and I guess they want me to feel normal and reassure me that I look normal. They want to make me feel like I’m OK, which is kind and sweet. And while it’s nice in many ways, it also implies you need to look a certain way to be sick, which brings me to the third group of people who utter this statement: Those that are generally perplexed to hear I’m ill because I simply don’t look it. I don’t know what you see when you look at the photo above. What I do know is that this photo was taken after I deliberately hurt myself because I was in so much pain. This is what it looks like to suffer from depression. It’s not always constant, can’t get out of bed, overwhelming sadness. Sometimes depression comes with smiles, makeup and pretty dresses that help to mask the truth. The photo above is what someone with a severe anxiety disorder looks like. I panicked about attending my best friend’s wedding. I panicked about how I looked, if I was overweight, what people would think, how I would survive the day, if I would let my best friend down — everything and anything. But no one sees that inner turmoil. They only see the smiles that cover it. This is the face of someone who needs multiple breaks, who needs to carefully plan each day, who counts spoons she doesn’t always have and who sometimes falls asleep in random places. This is what someone who is chronically ill looks like. The picture above is me on a good day — the days I’m able to get out of bed and the pain isn’t overwhelming. I might not look sick, b ut you don’t see the bad days. You don’t see the days I’m so tired I literally need help moving. You don’t see the pain that takes over my body. You don’t see the depressive episodes and the anxiety attacks. And that’s OK. I don’t want you to see it. But it also doesn’t mean I’m not sick, and we need to stop assuming that appearances mean everything. A version of this post was originally published on The Melodramatic Confessions of Carla Louise . We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here .
How 'Motivational Messages' Don't Help People With Mental Illness
The other day at work we were given a “motivational speech.” We were taught words you can say to help you “not give up,” and we were read a poem about how sometimes when bad things happen, we blame everyone but ourselves and struggle to get out of our own “mess.” At first, I really liked it. I mean, how many people aren’t inspired by motivational speakers? If people weren’t, they wouldn’t have a job. And, to be honest, it wasn’t until the poem I began to question what I was being told; it wasn’t until the poem I started feel differently. (The poem was about how you can get yourself out of “the darkness.”) To be fair — the poem has a point. We do need to take responsibility for our actions. However, it also got me thinking about people who, like me, live with a mental illness. (Since I developed a chronic illness, I’ve struggled on and off with depression and anxiety.) While this post relates immensely to myself, and those with anxiety and depression in particular, I’m sure many people could relate to this post, no matter their “illness” or “disability” – whether mental or physical. Recently, both my anxiety and depression were triggered again. I think, in part, it has largely been triggered by my return to teaching. Teaching, in itself, brings back surprisingly painful memories of those who were supposedly my friends, but abandoned me the moment I became ill — and didn’t get better when they seemed to expect me to. While my new school is exceptionally lovely, and the few people I’ve told about my illnesses are incredibly supportive, I can’t help thinking of those who were supportive in the beginning, and those who abandoned me when they decided me being ill was “too much drama.” Those memories, which are coming back with increasing force, are certainly a part of what has recently re-triggered my depression and anxiety. I think, also, about the fact that I’ve only been back at work full-time for a few weeks, and I can already feel the significant toll it’s taking on my body, on my physical health. No matter how much sleep I seem to get, it’s not enough. No matter how many pain tablets I take, they don’t seem to be strong enough. I am tired. I am so very tired. And I am sore. I am struggling to cope — and I’m fiercely reminded because I live with a chronic illness, there is no cure for me. I will never get better, no matter how hard I wish. I will have good days and bad days and that will be my life – counting how many “spoons” I have and what potential I have for completing each and every activity. That, in itself, doesn’t help. I want a “normal” life. (Who doesn’t? And what the hell is even “normal?”) I want not to be sick. Not to be depressed. Not to be anxious. But we don’t always get what we want. (See? Lightening the mood with a Rolling Stones quote. ‘Cause I’m awesome like that.) Regardless, the reason why is fairly irrelevant. Yet again, I find myself struggling with anxiety and depression; in an almost excessive, and over-bearing manner. And as the poem — the poem that was designed to motivate — was read, I realized how, in a way, this often dismisses people who live from mental illnesses like depression and anxiety. How sometimes, these ideas can reinforce negative stereotypes about depression and anxiety — for example, that you can just “snap out of it” and that you can choose whether or not you are depressed. Perhaps, given my current mental state, I read too much into the poem — but that in itself bears much consideration. How do some people with mental illnesses feel when exposed to such a suggestion? That they alone are responsible for how they feel, and therefore they alone can “snap out of it?” While some reminders are good — we do need to take responsibility for our actions, and we do need to learn to “fix our messes” — we also must remember that advice can only work some of the time, in some situations. Please, do not dismiss those who have depression or anxiety. It may be invisible, but it’s there. You can’t just “snap out of it.” It is not necessarily something a few tablets and a few therapy sessions can fix. It’s not always that easy. And we need to learn to be more understanding, so others feel valid when expressing their feelings. We need to work together to abolish the stigmas that surround mental health issues. This post originally appeared on Melodramatic Confessions of Carla Louise. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here. Image via Thinkstock
I Wish I Told a Teacher About My Invisible Illness
I still remember when I was first judged for having an invisible illness. While I was in college, I had been experiencing some unexplainable and serious neurological symptoms. A CT scan showed there were a cluster of veins in my brain, and I needed an MRI scan to determine whether or not the abnormal brain cluster was serious. I spoke with my supervising teachers about my medical situation and asked if I could leave the after-school meeting early, so I could attend my MRI appointment. They, of course, were completely understanding. The after-school meetings are mandatory for both teachers and students. These meetings can get pretty tedious, and I can honestly say I never attended an after-school meeting that had been meaningful in any way. But I went to the meeting and stayed for an hour, hoping it would end before I had to leave for my MRI appointment. At one point, I knew I couldn’t afford to wait any longer as I was pushing the time as it was. While I didn’t want to leave the meeting, I knew I had to go and had permission anyway. I told myself no one would say anything. I saw other people had left, and as far as I was aware, no one had blinked an eye. I was a student. A nobody. And I was wrong. As I quietly made my exit, a teacher — one I’d never met before — made a comment in a voice I’ll never forget. “Really? Already leaving? I guess some people are too important and have better things to do than attend meetings.” As I turned to look at him in shock, he finished his taunt to a friend this time, dismissing me entirely with one word: “Pathetic.” Anger raged through me. I’m the type of person who bites back. (I blame the red hair.) But shame filled me. And extreme pain. This man, filled with bitterness, judged me for leaving early without even considering the possibility that there was a reason for my early departure. I looked at him, and my expression was one that was torn between shock and devastation. I couldn’t believe someone could say that or be so cruel. I wanted to tell him I was leaving to see an MRI technician, so I could get my results and then see a neurosurgeon to discuss the possibility of brain surgery. I wanted to tell him this had been plaguing me for months. There had been months of symptoms before seeing my doctor. It had been weeks before I could get in for a CT scan. It had been weeks after that before I could see a neurologist, who recommended I needed an MRI and a consultation with a neurosurgeon. I wanted to tell him I was so afraid I felt sick to my stomach. I wish I’d told him all of that. But his coldness and the brutality of his statement had rendered me silent. I eventually learned the cluster of veins in my brain was an arteriovenous malformation (AVM). Mine appears to be more than stable. Three or four MRIs in the past few years suggest it’s unlikely to change and I’m safe. It took years for me to reach that diagnosis, but that conclusion — and the diagnosis — could have been so different. So stop. Stop judging. Stop assuming. You have no idea what someone is going through at any given time. Perhaps it’s time to consider not making comments about things that aren’t visible to the eye. You never know what’s under the surface. A version of this post was originally published on The Melodramatic Confessions of Carla Louise . We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Image via Thinkstock Images
What It Means When People Don't Believe My Chronic Fatigue
Today, I was talking to someone close to me. They asked if they’d woken me up — which they had. Despite the fact that it was almost seven at night, my chronic fatigue means that I can’t control when I fall asleep. I’d fallen asleep at around five, I think, but I’m not really sure. It wasn’t planned. Like it always does, it just happens. It’s not controllable. Chronic fatigue means I’m constantly tired. And I constantly fall asleep. Seriously. One time I went to sleep at Disneyland. Anyway, I could tell that the person I was talking to was annoyed — they’ve made it clear more than once that they feel that I can somehow control this. Despite the fact I’ve had this diagnosis for over a year; despite the fact that I’ve had five sleep studies to get the results, among other countless tests. And then I realized what bothered me about this conversation. It wasn’t that this person still thinks I can control what happens, nor is it the fact that they don’t really believe me. And if you’re sick, whether it’s mentally or physically, you’ll know what I mean. They “believe” you. But at the same time, they don’t. I mean, are you sure you haven’t tried a new diet? Are you sure you can’t do this? Are you sure? No, what I realized after I raged and cried after the phone call, was that it wasn’t the lack of belief, or even the lack of support, that bothered me. It wasn’t even the fact that this person is extremely close to me. So close, in fact, I’m deliberately not mentioning their name. It’s what the not-believing implies. It implies that this is a life I want. It implies that I’m OK with being so tired that going to the bathroom is torture. That sometimes, I’m so tired, I wait until my stomach bloats and cramps and I can’t hold it in anymore because I’m so tired I’m struggling to work out how to make it the 15 steps to my bathroom. It implies that I’m OK with the fact that sometimes I’m actually too tired to watch anything. Not read, not write, not work out, not eat … but I can’t even watch something mind-numbingly boring on TV because I’m literally too tired to keep my eyes open. It implies that I’m OK with being dependent on others. It implies that I’m OK with a lifestyle of living day-to-day, hoping that tomorrow will be a good day. And that’s bullsh*t. No one would choose this life. No one. No one wants to be so tired it hurts to move. No one wants to be so tired that they wait until they can’t physically hold in their bladder anymore because they’re too tired to move. No one wants to be too tired that watching TV is a chore. We aren’t talking about being lazy: my God, what I would give for me to be lazy. We are talking about a life that I actively hate. I have a good life, but my daily activities are dependent on whether I’m too tired to move or not. That’s not a life. I get that I have an invisible illness. I get that you can’t see it. I get that I’m not alone, and that others have it just as bad, or even worse, than I do. But before you don’t believe someone, before you start to pass judgement, think about what you’re saying: Would you want this as your life? Would you want to spontaneously fall asleep, having no control over yourself? Would you want your life to be spent sleeping? No? Neither do I. So before you pass judgement, before you make the assumption that this is a choice or something I want (or anyone else wants), stop. Please. No one would want this. No one would ask for this. Please stop pretending like it’s a choice. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here .
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