Earlier this week I came across a fantastic blogger, Becca, who has started a Mental Illness Tag. She asked and answered a series of questions in an attempt to better her understanding of her mental health. Here is a link to her original post. I found the questions thought-provoking and have decided to share my answers with you all.
So, here it goes…
1. What mental illness do you have?
I have been diagnosed with anxiety and depression.
2. When were you diagnosed?
I self-diagnosed probably around 3 or 4 years ago now, but it took some time for me to get to grips with what I was going through and to seek medical help. My professional diagnoses was roughly 2 years ago. It was a very stressful time in my life; it was my final year studying at school, and I felt that the exams I was about to sit would define my life for years to come.
3. Who knows about it?
After we broke up from school for the final time, I shared a post on this blog on my Facebook account. I didn’t expect many people to read it, only my closest friends. It was quite a long read after all! But the audience it received was overwhelming. I think nearly everyone read my post. It was a huge relief, to finally be open and honest with those I knew so well. Here’s a link to that post, if you’d like to read it.
4. Do you receive treatment for it?
I don’t currently. I did for a time, after my diagnosis. I had weekly CBT sessions and I found them incredibly helpful. I have tried to carry through its work in everyday life since then.
5. Has your mental illness stopped you from doing anything?
I’m not sure. It was possibly a contributing factor in many of my decisions not to do something, but I think I would have come to the same conclusion even without my struggles with anxiety and depression. I used to play a lot of sports. Rugby and cricket mostly, I hardly play either anymore. Some days I’d like to take them up again, but I’d struggle to commit to them long-term, and so it’d hardly be fair on my teammates.
6. Is there anything in particular that has helped you?
Yes, you guys!! I’d never have thought that writing a blog, and talking with people from the Internet would help, but it has, so much. We all have some wisdom to share, and stories to tell, listening to yours has helped me indescribably over the past two years. Even if it’s just the reminder that I’m not the only one going through the dark days.
7. Can you describe what it feel like to have your mental illness?
That’s tricky, but I’ll give it a shot… I wrote a post, a while back now, where I compared being depressed to trying to remove a blindfold, whilst my hands are tied behind my back. Depression blocks out the light. Depressives are no longer capable of seeing things realistically, which can lead to bigger problems.
Some days I don’t feel anything at all. I’m just numb, just completely numb. It’s like someone has sucked the spirit out of my soul. It kills you of all positive feelings. Suddenly everything just strikes you as pointless, hopeless in fact. I can wake up in the morning with no energy or desire to do anything that day, and then hate myself in the evening for not having achieved anything.
Anxiety can make me feel trapped. As if I’m trapped in a small room, with no lights, no window and no door. There’s no way for anyone to come in and help me and there’s no way for me to get out. In these scenarios it feels hard to breathe. It’s almost impossible to stay in control.
8. What is a common misconception about your mental illness?
Mental illness is still surrounded by prejudice, ignorance and fear. Non-depressives can rarely grasp the power of depression because they don’t understand that it is an illness. There is a tangible stigma regarding anxiety and depression. For one, just think about how often you hear people say “I’m so depressed today.” (I do realise that nobody generally means any harm with such a statement.) The thing with depression is that it doesn’t last a day. Months or even years later we can still be suffering from depression. When confronted with the subject of depression, most people realise that they have at best a vague idea of the illness. The word depression has a certain stigma to it. I’m sure that for a lot of you, it conjures up images of embarrassment, shame and inadequacy.
9. What do you find the most difficult to deal with?
Losing control. Every day I am fighting to stay in control of my thoughts and emotions. It requires an incredible amount of energy to keep going day after day. That’s one of the things I never really appreciated about mental illnesses, the repetitive nature of it. There is no let up.
10. Do you have anything that you’d like to say?
If any of my words have resonated with you on a personal level, if you’ve found any similarities with your own story, I’d just like to take this opportunity to encourage you to speak out. Reach out for the person in whom you trust the most and confide the truth. It will be a weight of your shoulders, believe me. We don’t have to fight this alone. Even when you think no-one is listening, keep sharing your story and eventually someone will listen. And please, please remember: In Silence We Suffer.
Thank you all for reading this, it has been quite a long one from me today! It’d be great to read some of your answers to the question, if you’d like to share. Hope you all have a lovely weekend! 🙂