Mental illness affects us all in different ways. Sometimes through family members, sometimes through friends, and sometimes it may even be a personal struggle. For me, I experience its effect in all three ways.
I don’t share my struggle with mental illness with many people. In fact, I can count on my hands the number of people I have shared my story with (until now, that is).
Here’s the short version for you: I have PCOS and it does a lot of crazy things to my body but affects me most by screwing up my hormones, which in turn, screw with my mind. I wasn’t diagnosed with anxiety and depression until this past summer because I was in denial for years. My parents had tried to get me to go to the doctor but I didn’t see anything strange about the way I was acting, the thoughts I was having, or the struggles I was facing. I thought that everyone had the same issues as me but some people were just better at hiding it.
Some of this irrational behaviour included:
- Faking being sick for weeks at a time because at 11 years old, I couldn’t deal with the burden of getting out of bed
- Crying in the bathroom at 13 years old because I thought my family was dead even though they were just at the grocery store
- Feeling, at 15 years old, as though I was watching someone live my life that I didn’t recognize or relate to them
- And, at 17 years old, panicking whenever I would hear aeroplanes above my apartment because I thought I was going to be bombed
This list is not at all comprehensive, but it is a taste of what mental illness looked like for me in my earlier years. Reading it now, it almost feels comical. But that’s what make mental illness so difficult to deal with: you know it’s irrational, but you can’t talk your mind out of reacting the way it does. At the time, it always feels so real because your brain is telling you that it is.
Thankfully, I can say that although I am not in the excellent mental condition that I am always striving for, I have taken (and am continuing to take) steps to improve my mental health.
It’s hard for me to share this because I don’t want to be labelled or for people to treat me differently. But I know my mental illness doesn’t define who I am or what I can do. After all, there’s something much more important than how people view me, and that’s for people who are struggling to know they are not alone. That’s why I have made the decision to share this despite much hesitation.
On this day, and always, I’m here for you.
Please reach out to me or someone else you love if you want someone to talk to.
Thanks for reading,