What I Wish People Without Mental Illnesses Knew

I Wish People Without Mental Illnesses Knew How Hard It Is To Reach Out For Help

Don't diagnose your friends, be there for them.

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We all have had our fair share of breakdowns — if you haven't, I think you're in for a good cry. Breaking down is nothing to be ashamed of but for people with mental illness, it is something that carries a heavy load with it. Growing up, I always showed signs of anxiety, it wasn't until my late high school years that I was diagnosed with a generalized anxiety disorder and moderate to severe depression. I was so ashamed. I felt like there was something wrong with me and that it needed to be fixed asap. So, I went and booked an appointment with a therapist and a psychiatrist.

After going through a few months without medicine and sole relying on therapy I realized that nothing was changing. My few new coping skills came in handy whenever I felt a surge of worry, but I was always in a state of up and down moods, and social impairment due to my mind always racing. After being prescribed a few medicines I, again, felt shame. Shameful in the fact that I couldn't handle this on my own. I was less than a year away from college and still having full meltdowns and constant crying that I pictured myself as a burden no one would want to put up with. Then it was like a new page in my life turned over.

My medicine started to work. I could feel my body take a sigh of relief as I could be independent and not have to call my mom every few minutes due to an anxiety attack bubbling up in my stomach. As I entered college, I was the happiest I have ever been. These people hadn't seen me at my worst. They didn't know that I used to not go to school because I couldn't get out of bed long enough to not cry. As my first semester began to approach my anxiety began to fade to the back of my mind as the excitement put itself full throttle. Freshman's ear started and my medication stayed the same, and I had less frequent visits with my therapist. I finally felt like an adult. That's when my strive towards greatness slowly pulled me back into a dark place.

The competition in college and the course work is 50% stress and 50% trying not to give up and drop out. I started to skip class and isolate myself from my friends. It also didn't help that the sun had disappeared, and the average was 27 degrees. I felt like the outside was finally representing what was going on in my mind. I tried to reach out to my friends but the advice they were giving was not something that was a positive impact.

They kept saying to meditate, focus on the good, and to "snap out of it."

They didn't understand, I didn't even understand what was happening.

I had fallen back down to where I had begun. Social media was not helping either. The amount of "throw away your meds, and go all natural." or "I got through my seasonal depression without any help," was just bombarding me with guilt and shame that I couldn't do it alone. I was spiraling and didn't know how to breathe or how to just be me again. That's when I did the most important thing I could do, I reached out for help. It's been a few weeks since I had put my pride to the side and did something that would help me.

Reaching out is never easy, and it was one of the hardest things to do. But now that I have reached out, I feel more adult and prouder than I ever did when I was pushing my mental health away. What I want people to know is that it's OK to ask for help, it's OK to take medication that is prescribed by a psychiatrist. But most importantly it's not OK to force your opinions on medicine or therapy or lack of emotion for others with mental illnesses. If you have a friend that is experiencing a down be there for them but don't be them for them if that makes sense. Mental illness is not something to shy away from, but something that should be a priority in your life.

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Understanding What It's Like To Live With An Anxiety Disorder

Having no control over your own mind is scary.
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Anxiety disorders are no fun for anyone. Most people don't understand what it's like to be someone who suffers from one. They come without warning and without reason. As I am writing this, I am awake at an ungodly hour due to this stupid battle my mind is having with itself.

Let me help those of you who do not understand what this illness is like.

At random moments, I will get this building worry and fear that something isn't right. Everything could be just perfectly fine, but my mind will trick itself into believing that something is wrong.

It will convince itself that my life is falling apart. I will worry about one thing one minute and talk 90 to nothing then start to worry about another thing. My mind constantly switches back and forth and will convince itself that things are worse than what they really are.

All the while, I'm trying so hard to calm myself down... but it is impossible.

It will send me into a depression. A depression that causes me to hate myself for being so crazy and irrational at times. This depression is the worst part. It causes me to want to space myself from the world and everyone around me. It causes me to feel alone with my illness, and it will cause me to be too terrified to talk those that are closest to me about what it is that I need from them.

I feel needy, and I'm repulsed. But I can't help it.

The hardest thing is for me to find peace with myself during the depression stage. Most times, it switches back to worry and will keep me up all night. Staying up all night causes me to feel irritable the next day, which in turn causes those around me to steer clear. Which in turn causes me to go right back into depression and battle myself for being mentally ill.

You see, there's something those of you who don't suffer from anxiety need to understand: WE CAN'T CONTROL IT.

No, it doesn't make us crazy. We don't need you to tell us that we are acting crazy. We are already well aware of this and telling us that will only make our condition worse.

It will come at the most inconvenient times. When it happens, just please be patient and understanding with us. The attack will eventually pass, and when it does, we'll be back to normal. The worst thing you could do is bring up anything we were previously worried about.

Doing so will only trigger another attack. Understand that it's you and us vs. the illness. We hate it, you hate it, we're on the same team here. The best thing you can do during an attack is to just listen, and know that there are times we need you to hold us, and times we need you to leave us alone. Know that sometimes you'll be the trigger for the attack.

Don't take it personally. And please, for the sake of humanity, don't tell us that we're overreacting, that we need to calm down, or that worrying isn't going to make anything any better. If we could stop worrying, don't you think we would have already?

Dating someone with an anxiety disorder isn't easy, at all. It requires giving that person a lot of attention that you normally wouldn't have to do. That doesn't mean the sufferer constantly needs you to be stuck up his or her butt 24/7, but it does mean that when he or she is under attack you need to be there.

If someone you love is having an anxiety attack, ask them what they need. Most of the time they know what they need from you to help make it better, but they're too scared to tell you. Let them know that you genuinely want to help in any way that you can, and be okay with it if they tell you nothing and to just listen. Get to know their illness better.

Everyone's anxiety disorder is different.

Try to understand what it's like to have absolutely no control over your mind, and be there for that person. They need you most when they feel as though they have turned on themselves.


If you or someone you know is battling an anxiety disorder, seek help.

Cover Image Credit: ankor2 / Flickr

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8 Unconventional Ways To De-Stress We All Need

Moody isn't always the move.

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When the stress of finals hits a little too hard and Moody is no longer the move, I use these tricks as a way to stay positive and power through the semester!

1. Plan a Trip

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While it's not always financially feasible to travel all over the world, I've found that when I take 30-45 minutes to plan a 'bucket list' vacation, my stress levels almost always decrease. Granted, I'm a Type-A person so planning gives me extreme joy. I love to look up cheap flights on Google Flights for a date in the future and then plan a trip around it; I'll go onto TripAdvisor and find an ideal hotel, a list of things I want to do, and restaurants I want to eat at. Maybe the trip isn't happening YET, but who knows? At least you'll have it planned when you actually do get to visit that dream destination in the future!

2. Make a list of short-term and long-term goals

Every Pixels

Sometimes I need to feel like I'm being productive when I'm not actually being productive. A bit of an oxymoron, but nonetheless I love making both short term and long term to-do lists of sorts as a study break. This is super easy to do in those odd breaks in classes or even between studying for different classes! Just grab a piece of paper and write down what you want to get done for the rest of the day, week, year... The depth and extent of the list is truly up to you!

3. Online. Shopping.

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Online shopping is definitely a de-stress method for those that love fashion like me. So if you have to be dragged into the mall, this suggestion is probably not for you! I personally love visiting some of my favorite store websites (looking @ you Nordstrom) and looking at some of the new pieces and upcoming trends. Being able to be enveloped in something completely unrelated to what I'm studying for is much needed at times!

4. Go for a walk around campus/ town

Claire Nevill

Sometimes I start to go 'stir crazy' if I've been sitting inside for too long! I love putting in some earbuds and going for a walk around campus if it's a pretty day, just to get a break from staring at a computer. And, okay yes, I usually treat myself to a coffee while I'm out (CG is the move if you're at Baylor)!

5. Get some friends together and make a treat of some sort

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Sometimes at the end of a long study day, my friends and I just want to do something low-key and fun. A lot of times my friends and I will go to the store and get a couple of ingredients to make a dessert together. These do not have to be elaborate. Some of the things my friends and I have baked this year include a cookie log, peep s'mores, and pre-made cookies. We're not exactly honing in on our culinary/baking skills, but it's fun to spend time together and have a yummy end result!

6. Make some tea, diffuse some essential oil, and do a face mask

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I absolutely love doing a 'self-care' night every once in a while. When I have a test I, along with many others I'm sure, can get super stressed and anxious! One thing that really helps calm me down is putting on a face mask, making myself some tea, and diffusing some essential oils. I use this time to read my Bible, catch up on a TV show, or just listen to music. As important as it is to prepare well for the test/final, it helps me so much to schedule in some "relaxation" time as well!

7. Use a journal either to reflect on the day or sketch

Kaboompics

I'm going to preface this by saying, I am not artsy at all. However, sometimes getting out a journal and sketching/doodling is a great way to de-stress in the midst of studying! I also really enjoy using a journal to write reflections/prayers/ quotes I love as a way to break up the studying as well.

8. Make a presentation on something you're excited about

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This is for all you fellow type-A personality, planners like me! One of my favorite ways to relax and reward myself after studying is to make a presentation (google slide presentation to be exact) of some events/places/plans I'm excited for. I've made presentations detailing what my friends and I will do in the summer, travel plans, and a study-abroad information presentation for my parents, amongst other things.

Hopefully, these ideas will help get y'all through the stress of the final exams/tests/quizzes to come. Though unconventional, these are just some of the ways I remind myself that there is ultimately more to life than school and studying!

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