The Thing About Mental Illness Is…

“Just because you’re clean don’t mean you don’t miss it…” –Clean, Taylor Swift

Warning: this post contains references to suicide and self harm. So if this triggers you PLEASE do not read. I’d rather miss out on a view for this than trigger anyone.

Things aren’t going too well at the moment. Outside forces are making it just as hard to keep going as the thoughts in my head. There’s good things, obviously, that will make me smile for a moment but people mistake that momentary smile for me being truly happy. They’ll say things like “but you were laughing earlier” when I choose to tell them how I’m really feeling.

Important note: You can smile and laugh and still be thinking about suicide.

It’s got to the point with me that everything triggers this thought. I’ll have a bath and wonder if it’s deep enough to drown in. I’ll be on the bus and wonder where exactly a car would have to hit it to kill just me.

Why am I sharing this? To be honest, I’ve been asking myself the same question while I write. But this blog is about dealing with mental illness and, as with any illness, it can get messy and uncomfortable. you can feel better during the day and then suddenly it drops and you feel too sick to leave your bed.

Anxiety, as well, is tied into this. One of the many doctors I’ve seen recently (and also my regular doctor now) described anxiety as a smoke alarm. You need that smoke alarm in case there’s a fire but if the sensitivity is too high then it’s going to go off whenever you make toast. Another way of seeing both depression and anxiety is as two friends who might just need a little reassurance every now and then that things aren’t as bad as they think.

Anyway, the main point of this post is this: mental illness isn’t just about you. You’re obviously the centre of it if you’re the one struggling. But there’s a whole world around you that you might forget about.

The other night, I was having an exceptionally low night and told my best friend that I wished things would just end and that she has other people around her so she wouldn’t need me anyway. Depression is such a self involved illness that I didn’t even realise the words I was saying were upsetting her. I was so obsessed with how I felt and what I needed to express that I didn’t even think about the right way to go about it. I read our text messages back the next day and my heart literally felt like it was going to sink all the way to the floor with how upset she sounded.

Mental illness isn’t just about you – it’s about everyone around you too.

Don’t be consumed by your mental illness; it is a part of you, but not all of you.

If you’re looking for things to hold on to (because if you’re anything like me, you might need someone to list them for you), here’s what I remember when I’m down:

  1. Do it for the smile a stranger gave you
  2. Do it so you can feel grass or sand between your toes in the summer
  3. Do it for your best friend
  4. Do it for your pet
  5. Do it for your family
  6. Do it so you can breathe in the cold winter air and let out a cloud of breath back into it
  7. Do it for the terrifying excitement of the unknown
  8. Do it for yourself!
  9. Do it so you can snuggle down in clean bedsheets
  10. And do it so you can say that you did

There’s no harm or shame in asking for help. Even if it’s just asking a colleague to watch your desk for a moment while you go to the bathroom for a pep-talk in the mirror. We can both do this.

Until the next post

RS

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