May is Mental Health Awareness month.
So let’s get a few things straight about anxiety, depression, intrusive thoughts - ANY mental illness, really...
It is NOT possible to simply choose not to feel anxious... or depressed...or have scary thoughts.
"Oh FFS..! Stop whining and loving your depression and issues! Just get on with shit!”
Sound familiar? That’s 1000% not how mental illness works. You have ZERO choice.
Sure, you can try to have a ‘positive outlook’ on life, but that doesn’t change your illness. You can feel sad. You can feel down. And you can worry and wake up the next day and feel better, but that is not true mental illness.
REAL anxiety, REAL depression, REAL mental illness gives you NO CHOICE. Which makes sense if you think about it. Who would choose that kind of pain and misery and anguish for themselves? It’s quite preposterous.
If you think we’re seeking attention or pity, and love drowning in misery, you obviously never experienced anything like it yourself.
Obviously, you don’t understand what it is like to be punched in the gut by overwhelming panic, despair or hopelessness on a beautiful sunny day when your kids are laughing and playing, birds are chirping and everything seems PERFECT.
I’m talking about the kind of panic, despair and hopelessness that doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t care if you’re male or female, 18 or 50, and have a seemingly lovely, picture perfect life surrounded by a white picket fence.
REAL mental illness is not something that you drop or move on from when you’re not interested in it. Until you’ve experienced it yourself, you may think that screaming at us to ‘snap out of it, FFS!’ is effective.
Would you yell like that at your friend with breast cancer? Someone with MS, autoimmune disease or someone with a broken arm? Would you tell your brother whose son has a heart condition ‘Oh FFS get over it’? Or scream at your daughter to stop having OCD?
It’s so flipping exhausting to have to explain these things over and over and OVER again to people that don't get how mental illness works. It's a brain disease just like any other disease out there.
When you don’t understand how mental illness works you are (inadvertently) hurting people who are suffering from it. You force them to suffer in silence because you are making it obvious to them that you don’t believe in the realness of depression and are diminishing their suffering.
Please don’t be like that. It could cost the life of someone close to you. Please instead stick up for them so they will stick around and know they are not alone. Being in the throes of anxiety and depression, intensifies the belief that you are completely alone and that you're the only one that has feelings of hopelessness. Your brain tricks you into feeling utter despair. And it gets to you in a way that's hard to describe unless you’ve experienced it. And if you’d experienced it you know never to say things like “suck it up” to someone else that struggles.
I can’t even begin to imagine how many people are suffering from mental illness brought on by COVID who’ve never experienced it before. These people don’t need your ‘FSS, suck it up!’ comments.
Instead, you check in, call, text, give them flowers, hug them or anything else you'd do for someone who is sick. You make sure they stay ALIVE by loving them through it. You certainly never tell them to stop whining and loving their mental illness. Because, no, FFS, that does not work.