“Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of but stigma and bias shame us all”
I have suffered from various Mental Illnesses for 8 years. Living with Mental Illness is tough and it is an on-going battle. You can feel like you are making progress and then relapse without warning. It is unpredictable. It is confusing. It is complex. And ultimately It can be soul destroying. I can safely say that I would not wish a Mental Illness on anyone.
Admitting you are ill and are worthy of treatment is the first step to fighting a Mental Illness. However, for a lot of suffers this can be the hardest part. You see fear surrounds Mental Illness. The fear from suffers of being judged and the fear from others of these illnesses which seem so abnormal . There is also a lot of stigma surrounding Mental Illness. So much so that many suffers feel embarrassed. It is not like a physical illness towards which people are more accepting. It is seen as a weakness, a shameful thing that should be hidden and not spoken about.
The next step is finding the right treatment. This can be tricky as there are so many medications out there that it can take time to find the right one. If you need therapy there are long waiting lists. All these factors play a part in making Mental Illnesses incredibly hard to overcome.
The final step is recovery. Recovery from any Mental Illness is tough. And unlike many Physical Illnesses it can span decades. The hardest part for me was finding it in me to fight. It felt as though my mind had waged war on itself. I was suffering, and a huge part of me wanted to give up and let it kill me.
Eating Disorders have the highest mortality rate of all Mental Illnesses. I have suffered from an Eating Disorder since I was 14 and around the same time I was diagnosed with Depression. At a young age I was having to deal with illnesses that many adults find difficult to cope with. As with many people suffering from Eating Disorders, I had to wait a long time before I could receive treatment. I was always either not underweight enough, not in the right place, or doing different kinds of therapy. It is outrageous that suffers have to wait until they reach critically low BMIs to receive help. Living with Anorexia Nervosa is awful. It has been a long and distressing fight for me with many relapses. Having to face your fears on a daily basis is exhausting and sometimes it can feel like you are getting nowhere. Depression is debilitating. It can make you feel unworthy, unloved and uncared for. It drags you down into the pit of despair and all you can do is to try and stay afloat. It is a horrible illness that has left me, at times, feeling suicidal.
When i was 18 I was diagnosed with Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder. Since then I have been in and out of hospital usually sectioned under the Mental Health Act. EUPD is like riding the biggest wave of emotion. You can feel everything, yet nothing, Love everybody, but hate them. Care about yourself, yet not care at all. It has led me to self harm and to overdose. It has a massive impact on my life, but I am not crazy. Aside from my Mental Illnesses I am pretty ordinary. I am currently studying Law at university and enjoy writing in my spare time.
Living in a society that sees Mental Illness as a taboo is incredibly difficult and it is only recently that I have begun to open up and share my story with family and friends. Sharing my story has really helped me during my recovery and I would encourage others to do the same. It allows me to see how far I have come and how much I have to live for. It has helped me gain confidence and courage. It also gives me a great sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. I feel like I am doing my bit to spread the word and reduce the stigma surrounding Mental Illness.
To anyone out there struggling, you are not alone. Please seek help. You are worthy and deserving of treatment. I may have a long way to go in my recovery but I have come a long way from where I was and I could not have done that without the care and help of services. I hope I have allowed people to gage some insight into what it is like to live with Mental Illness and I hope that I have helped spread the word that Mental Illness is not something that should be feared but something that should be accepted in todays society. I am not defined by my illnesses. I am me.
Take care guys
One thought on “Living with Mental Illness”
Thanks for this post. You’re brave. As someone who also suffers from depression, admitting it not only to others, but myself, was one of the hardest parts of accepting the control it has over my life. It depends who you surround yourself with as well. You’re right that a lot of society sees mental illnesses as taboo, but at the same time, I’ve seen evidence that society is slowly accepting the fact that they can never quite understand what people with said illnesses go through. It’s a part of us, and we certainly don’t have to embrace that fact, but it shouldn’t be something we’re ashamed of, either. The fact that you are making an active effort to make your tomorrow better than your yesterday is already putting you on the right track to recovery. I’m a stranger, but if you need someone to talk to, don’t be afraid to reach out to me if you feel the need to. I wish you all the best. 🙂