When we talk about mental illness, there’s already a picture in our head of what we think it looks like. We always see the after picture of it, when really we should try to understand how it begins. To be able to know how it starts gives us a chance to point out patterns that can help when it comes to therapy or simple self care.
Today’s contribution for my Mental Health Mini series comes from Luthienthegreen. They’re sharing their story with us about the effects of Depression and Anxiety; how it affects their life and how their life, in turn, affects their mental illness.
I first started experiencing serious anxiety problems in the year of my GCSEs. I was performing well, and more and more people were expecting results from me. I played the piano and had to give performances. All this was fine until everything started to go wrong. The stakes got higher and higher, and I realised that I had no more room for error if I wanted to meet both my own and others’ expectations.
I felt a failure if I played one wrong note or got a B on a paper. I started worrying about tests earlier and earlier, to the point where I’d be having a panic attack every day, months ahead of an exam.
Anyone who has had panic attacks knows how embarrassing it can feel to be so out of control of your body. You don’t know what’s wrong with you and want to hide the fact that you can’t cope and have to run to the loo all the time. So you isolate yourself.
Added to this, my friends left at the end of GCSEs, I didn’t meet the almost unattainable targets I had been set, and my remaining self esteem dematerialised.
I tried to make new friends but the rest of my year disliked me for getting good grades and no amount of friendliness could undo that. I hated my body and started restricting my diet.
I won’t go into that, since I know how triggering it can be for others, but I started to developed anorexia.
I was by this point also severely depressed, suicidal and self harming. I didn’t attend lessons and caught up when I could. I eventually spoke out and asked for help, but few teachers felt they could do much, and the schools general attitude was I shouldn’t be there.
I was put on a waiting list for CAMHS, but even when I finally got an appointment they did little except put me on a meal plan and try me on three different antidepressants, none of which helped. I was also informed at a later stage that since I had complied with the meal plan, (they said they wouldn’t give me therapy otherwise), I was not anorexic. Unfortunately I then stopped eating again and the who cycle restarted.
My experience has sadly been that people stay away from those who have mental health issues. I have lost many friends during my illness, which makes me sad. We don’t want to talk about our struggles all the time.
Yes, a kind word is appreciated, but we’re still the same person we were before. It doesn’t make us monsters. A kind smile is already a huge gift to someone struggling with depression.
Now I am taking a rest from all academic work. I draw cartoons for my blog to help others understand what life with mental illness can feel like.
ABOUT THE WRITER
The address is www.luthienthegreen.wordpress.com. Please share it with anyone who is struggling or would like to know more about the topic and how it affects daily life. It would be great if we could start supporting those who have a mental health condition more rather than pushing them away.
Thank you for reading!
What can we, as friends, do to listen better?
What’s one thing we can practice to be a better support?
[Background Image from Instruck Studios, and text dividers from Freepik.]