Mental illness is not just mental.
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Health and Wellness

Mental Illness Is Not Just Mental

Mental illness is a popular topic of conversation, and it's well understood, until another person sees it as an inconvenience.

Mental Illness Is Not Just Mental

For a week last summer I was adjusting to a new medication while dealing with vivid nightmares and sleep paralysis. I was on the verge of break up and terrified to sleep at night. Simple tasks like driving terrified me that week, it was my week from hell.

I realized that week that there is so much more to mental illness than just depression and anxiety. My best friend Ariana stood by me, I laid on her floor, cried in her car, and sat next to her in silence. I kept telling myself I was crazy because I was unable to put my thoughts into words. Ariana made me realize that I wasn't crazy, I just was not coping right. I tried to push my symptoms under the rug for far too long. During this week from hell, I scared my [former] boyfriend away within a few weeks but grew closer to my best friend. Ariana did not have a manual, she wasn't a professional by any means, rather she was a friend that strived to understand.

I have gotten better since this cruel week in June, I still shake a lot, I'm frequently nauseous, there's an annoying pain behind my eyes and my limbs feel like a defeated flag flapping in the wind. It hurts, it sucks, but I'm healthy. These small inconveniences happen almost daily, whether it's over conflict, intrusive thoughts, a bad grade, or a miscommunication.

I cannot control getting sick to my stomach; if it were up to me it would never happen. I wish I could just get red in the face and move on, but for whatever reason, my body chooses to get physically sick.

Am I crazy? Absolutely not. I am not the only person in the world who gets physically sick from depression and anxiety. I have had people tell me to calm down, get on medication, or to "stop being dramatic."

Quite frankly, I would love to not throw up when I'm angry, I would prefer not to shake and sweat profusely over a miscommunication, the throbbing behind my eyes is less than desirable, and I would be enthralled if I never felt it again. Can I change it overnight? No.

As I said, I'm not the only one. Your friend who is constantly tired is probably tired of the daily intrusive and destructive thoughts racing through their tired mind. If your friend is too "tired" to go out, offer to stay in with them. Do not walk out on a friend just because they cannot satisfy your wants in that very moment.

Mental illness is a popular topic of conversation and it's well understood, but only until another person sees it as an inconvenience.

Having a friend with a mental health disorder does not make you a professional by any means. The way mental illness impacts one person is completely different than how it could impact another person. One friend could have a panic attack that mirrors a seizure and another can have one in a silent daze.

Understand that the way mental illness impacts you is not the same way that it impacts another person. Depression is not crying in the corner, it's the sleepless nights, half-eaten meals, and the person feeling alone in a room full of people.

Like any other illness, mental illnesses have symptoms. Your friend with bloody cuticles could be anxiety-ridden, despite the smile on their face. Your friend who "fakes sick" is most definitely not faking, because mental illness attacks the body in ways we cannot always see.

Above all, take care of your friends with mental illness. You do not have to hold their hand at their bedside to show you care, but striving to learn about how their illness affects them is the ultimate form of love. Keep in mind, everyone struggles, everyone hurts, but not everyone shows it the same way. In conclusion: be like Ariana.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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