I’m a 1 in 5. Break the stigma.

One of the worst side effects of mental illness is frustration. The frustration can start to take over your life, slowly pushing you into oblivion. 

When I was first diagnosed with depression I was confused. I’ve had a great life so far, and everything has always been so easy. How can I be depressed? Doctors would ask me questions to try and figure out why. Are your parents divorced? No. Did you go through something traumatic? No. Were you ever abused? No. Did you have a rough childhood? No. Do have friends? No. I mean, yes, great ones! There were questions upon questions, all of which I seemed to have the wrong answer to. There wasn’t a reason for my depression, it was just some sort of chemical imbalance. This was the start of the frustration. I was constantly wondering why I felt the way I did. It was frustrating not being able to sleep because I’m too awake, then even more frustrating not being able to get out of bed the next morning. It drove me crazy having to get blood work done, and have to go to councilors, and psychologists, and psychiatrists, and everything coming back “normal”. When this is all happening to you, you get used to being told it’s just the way you are, and not in a cutesy Bruno Mars sort of way.

Frustration is often tied with guilt. Which in turn is another one of the worst side effects. You’ll be stuck in your room, with blackout drapes shutting out the sun, frustrated that you’re feeling so down on such a beautiful day, when your friend asks you to hang out. You get out of bed, get dressed, put on makeup, then crawl back in bed, you can’t go. You say you’re sick. You’re friend says, “Again!? You’re always sick!”, and you’re struck with a wave of guilt. You become really good at listening for the sighs of frustration when telling people you have to bail. But passing your frustration on to other people doesn’t take it away from you, it just adds guilt to the cocktail of emotions you’re already feeling. 

I wish I could lie to you and say that your friends and family are awful, and they don’t understand, and how could they? They’re perfect. But I can’t for 2 reasons: 1) I’ve said that lie to myself so many times, that if I say it once more my nose may actually grow so big I topple over from the weight and die. and 2) It’s not true at all and if you believe it is, you’re oblivious.

(Would you look at that? A flawless segue!)

Oblivion is defined as the state of being unaware of what is happening around you. Based on that definition, I think the majority of humanity lives in oblivion. You never really know what could be happening to someone right next to you. There are times in my life where I was not only unaware of what was happening around me, but what was happening inside me. Thankfully, I have finally crawled out of the tunnel of oblivion I was stuck in. Now I realize what is happening inside me, and what is happening around me. I guess you could call this my “spiritual awakening”, but I’m just going to say I took my head out of my ass. I’m going to try to say the next sentence without sounding completely out-to-lunch. It’s as if i finally see things for not what they are but for what they have become. Let me explain. I don’t just see my best friends as people, I see them as these amazing people who has gone through so much and still remain so strong. It’s as if I finally understand what living is supposed to feel like, and I don’t want to go back.

I can’t stress enough how important understanding mental illness is, especially if you are someone who doesn’t have a mental illness. 1 in 5 people live with mental illness, so more than likely someone you know is dealing with a little more than you think. I personally believe that it is almost more important to understand mental illness if you do not have a mental illness yourself. This way you can know how your friends or family members are feeling, and what is going on inside them; Which is something they will often be questioning themselves. If you do have a mental illness yourself, reading articles and doing research is one of the best things you can do. Not only will it help you fully understand things that are, or may start, happening to you, but it will make you realize you’re not alone. Sorry to break it to you, but you’re really not that special. You’re a 1 in 5, not a 1 in 1,000,000.

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