Saying ‘I have a Mental Illness’ means I’m not socially acceptable.

Image by Hello I’m Nik | Unsplash

It’s #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek, where, in reality the ones that suffer are suffering daily, not just for a week a year.

Alas, it’s good to keep awareness alive and if a week’s all we’ve got, lets give it to ‘em.

As someone who’s been through her fair share of traumas and a lifelong anxiety disorder, but come out the other side, with scars and stories to tell I wanted to offer up my two-penneths.

Some Stigmas…

People with a ‘mental health issue’ should be sectioned.

In the beginning, I struggled talking about my stuff (and still do to some), I was in a dark, lonely place scared to death, physical things were happening to me because I’d lived a life of maxed-out stress up until that point and my body had to let the air out somehow.

I even thought I needed sectioning. I didn’t have the family strength around me who could offer any kind of guidance so eventually, desperate and clinging to anything I could, I reached out to a therapist, which was hard and painful and I wanted to give up early on, but was the turning point for me.

Some people with certain mental illnesses do require sectioning, but most don’t.

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Perfectionism — everything has to be perfect, there’s no space for imperfections.

This was (and still is) probably one of the hardest lessons for me, I hated doing anything that wasn’t going to be perfect.

During this time of my life I decided to change career from Administration to Graphic Design and one of the lessons I learned during this period was that not all art is meant to be perfect. And it’s ok if it’s not. This helped me let go a little, undo the bootstraps that were holding me to ransom and I could translate that into my actual life.

I still struggle with things today but have a greater understanding and can now actually enjoy the feeling of imperfection.

Photo by Ehimetalor Unuabona via Unsplash

You need to push anxiety away. It’s all in your mind.

The biggest lesson I learned was avoidance and how it just prolongs the inevitable. Anxiety is there for a reason, either because you’re frightened of a thing in front of you, like a lion with it’s mouth open or if you learned behaviour from childhood, it always needs facing.

During my therapy, which lasted a good few years, I faced things so painful that I felt like I was going to die. But as time went on and I looked at them over and over again, the pain dulled and I felt able to hold them in my head without wanting to run away screaming.

My personal experiences have benefitted from the ‘no avoidance’ technique.

Just be positive all the time, you’ll be fine.

We need a balance right? Certainly in my experiences anyone that’s too far one way, there’s something off kilter there.

I’m a huge believer in the universe giving what you put out, but sometimes you’re just not feeling it and when someone says ‘just be positive’ it’s hard to stop myself wanting to punch them.

‘It’s ok, not to be ok’ was a saying I heard years ago and a phrase I love. Sometimes you’re not ok, but don’t give yourself a hard time about not feeling it, just treat yourself well, do things you can manage and get there on your own terms.

Saying ‘I have a Mental Illness’ means I’m not socially acceptable.

Nah mate, everyone has them, just some are more aware than others of what shit they’re bringing to the party.

Being mentally ill is embarrassing.

It’s only embarrassing for people who’ve never experienced it. There’s no shame in it.

I remember feeling desparate and lost when things got bad for me, I remember feeling shame and embarrassment — some members of my close family still now can’t accept that part of me, and it sucks — but the things that I bring from all of my experiences, new behaviours, new thought patterns, a whole other level of thinking, I hold very dear to my heart and wish that for everyone experiencing whatever they’re going through and know there is light at the end of the tunnel.