“Realizing Mental Illness” by Anonymous

Mental health and me – I always thought it was always me against the depression and anxiety but I’ve now come to accept it’s a part of me. Here is my story of how I realised I had a mental illness and my journey to realising it’s a part of me and always will be..

For many years I always thought that I was just a sad person, my mind always had a pitiful slant to it. I had always felt things very deeply, a situation that would simply be classed as sad would be traumatic and heartbreaking to me. I spent a lot of time crying about things that would upset me greatly when others would think it was overdramatic or overly sensitive. I have a very sensitive nature and just put it down to that. I would have times where I just felt really down but never had any significant reason for it. I would feel unmotivated and lazy. Most of my family would have described me as lazy, as I was unable to move from my bed some days. I would later discover that this was the early stages of depression.

I can’t say that I had much traumatic experiences in my life and I never really failed at anything. Until last summer. I had a period where one traumatic experience after another happened and my life felt like it was spiralling out of control. I didn’t really know how to deal with how I was feeling. All i knew was that I was slowly but surely losing the person I was before it all happened. I was fiercely independent and incredibly motivated about life but this was becoming a part of me that was dimming. I was losing my sparkle. My mind was a total blur of negativity, sadness and pure undiluted panic on an hour by hour basis. I had days where I would wake up from all of about 2 hours sleep and pray that I didn’t have to get up and face a world that my frantic mind could not handle. I would make sure to close my emotions off and put my poker face on just to get through the day. Once I was alone, I would crumble, the mask would fall and my dark thoughts would take over. Nobody understood the cloud of blackness that lurked above my head, nobody was aware that I was fighting this unending struggle between my heart and my mind which of course was extremely poorly. I wasn’t willing to admit it, I was just telling myself that I was sad because of the events that had happened. The truth was, I was struggling with my mental health and I wasn’t even aware of it.

One day, around christmas time my mother mentioned putting the christmas decorations up and I just felt completely empty, void of enthusiasm and excitement. This was completely out of character as christmas was my favourite time of year, again I knew this wasn’t normal but I buried it. Human contact and interaction was physically and mentally painful, I couldn’t bare to be around people despite craving the contact when I was alone. The isolating feeling depression provides is something that I am still trying to come to terms with.

My best friend asked me one day how I was doing after the traumatic events a couple months previously, I looked her in the eyes and I crumbled. I completely lost my control and blurted out to her how I was feeling. She held me close and whispered that I needed to visit the doctors. She took me the next day and sat with me while I had a panic attack in the car. She pushed me into the waiting room and almost dragged me into the room where I almost collapsed in front of a doctor who looked at me with sympathy in her eyes. I remember my whole body trembling as I tried to relay the last few months of hell to a complete stranger. This was the most terrifying moment of my life so far, opening up my mind to someone and pleading with them to make it better. The desperation seeped from my mind and my heart. I couldn’t do it any longer. ‘I would believe that you are suffering from severe low mood, there is a lot of help out there and this is the first step to getting you better’

That was the first time it ever crossed my mind that what I had was depression and that my mind was poorly, it wasn’t my fault and it wasn’t just a part of my personality, it is an illness. It is a chemical imbalance in my brain that made me react and feel the way I did. I am undergoing intense counselling sessions and I have been prescribed antidepressants, it’s not a quick fix and I am not going to be perfect but slowly my sparkle is returning and there are glimpses of the old me. This is a difficult, bumpy road but one that I know I can survive with the right amount of support and help that’s available. We can and we will fight this!

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