On my way home a couple of weeks ago I bought a book from the airport, ‘Reasons to Stay Alive’ by Matt Haig, in which he warmingly describes how he battled and still deals with this black dog as he called it, depression. I highly recommend it to everyone.
I wanted to write about mental illness for a long time (although I understand it might be a heavy read for some, but well life is not always easy) and reading that book was a good reminder.
One of the perks of studying Psychology is the clearer and more accurate view it gives when it comes to mental illness but reading, hearing about it, going through it myself and having people in my life who deal with it every day has been an eye opener.
Millions of people battle daily with depression,anorexia, anxiety, panic attacks, OCD, PTSD and many others.
And unfortunately still to that day, a lot of people don’t realise how difficult and debilitating it can be. Which makes it even more difficult for anyone who suffers from mental illness to open up about it even to their doctor or friends and family and ask for help. So they end up dealing with it themselves in silence.
And I have done that myself. I suffered from anorexia as a teenager but my amazing family helped me go through it. But I dealt with hypochondria on my own for almost 2 years and it sometimes still creeps up, but I learned how to control it. I will not go into detail because this post is not about me, but I found it extremely difficult to deal with and I found it even more difficult to ask for help.
If you suffer from any physical illness, from less serious ones like a simple infection to more serious ones like cancer, people are (most of the time) sympathetic about it, supportive and encourage you to go to the doctor and get treated. Why isn’t that happening with mental illnesses ?
You’ ll never hear “Oh you’ll get over it, it’s not a big deal”, “It will go away”, “It’s not that hard, you can do it”, “Just get up!” if you suffer from any physical illness.
Social norms dictate that being sensitive and open about your emotions it’s a sign of weakness, which I am passionately against of.
Being sensitive and expressing your emotions is essential to well being. How on earth did it end up being a sign of weakness??
We all struggle with life sometimes and I find that hard to deal with sometimes myself. I can’t even imagine how it can be for others who daily have to deal with life struggles AND anxiety or panic attacks or …or…or…
If you are struggling, I just want to say, you are not alone. And I can’t even imagine how hard it can be. If and when you can, get it out of your chest, share it with a friend or family or your doctor or to a complete stranger (it’s sometimes easier).
We all need to remind ourselves from time to time not to be judgemental. You never know what the person next to you is dealing with every day, even if they have a smile on their face.
And remember to listen not just hear.
Love you all! x
PS. The featured image was taken from this amazing video the World Health Organisation made about depression, definitely worth a watch! I do not own the the picture.