When you have mental health issues you feel ashamed of the illness and try to keep it to yourself. Our society doesn’t yet see mental health as a valid illness. There has been a shift over the last few years, but it’s still not far enough.
So why did I feel ashamed of my illness? Probably because the utter witch that it turned me in to. Who wants to admit to the world that you have depression at one end of the scale and are high as a kite acting like a lunatic at the other. It’s not very attractive is it?
Mental health also makes you the master of disguise. I could turn my symptoms off and become the life and soul of the party… when I’d get home it’ll all come crashing down. This was so hard for my ex to understand. If I seemed ok, in his head I was. It was a huge shock when I walked through the front door and the smile turned off. He just didn’t get it.
At the height of my illness, I also had issues with my work. They put more and more pressure on, without any support and not a lot of care, and when I finally admitted that I was ill because of it I got the usual employer response ‘well you could have said no and if we don’t know you’re I’ll we can’t do anything’. They were right on one part, I left it too late to say anything. A cold or flu is way easier to call in sick for.
Please remember that mental health is a valid illness. It’s ok to not be ok. It’s ok to take some time off of work. It’s ok to take medication. It’s ok to focus your energy and time on yourself and getting yourself better.
I urge you to talk to your family. They might not understand at first and there will probably be some burying of head in the sand, but after time and probably some Google’ing they will start to try and understand and be there to help you.
If you can’t talk to your family, please talk to someone, anyone, about your illness. Especially a doctor. Don’t suffer alone and don’t be afraid to talk… it does help and is a very important step to your recovery. Much love J x.
Ps, There are a load of awesome resources online for helping family members understand what’s going on. Check out the MIND website here.