I saw this tag done on You’re Not Alone In This World and the blogger tagged everyone with a mental illness. If you didn’t know May is Mental Health Awareness Month and I figured this tag would be a great way to kick it off. I will also be guest posting in Amber’s @ BookStacksAmber series of guest posts on mental illness. Okay, so let’s jump right into it!
1. What mental illness do you have?
I have dysthymia (a form of depression in which you feel no pleasure at/for anything. it is different from major depression, but harder to treat and more “treatment resistant” than major depression), generalized anxiety disorder (performance anxiety), and severe ADD/ADHD.
2. When were you diagnosed?
I was diagnosed with ADHD/ADD when I was 7. I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety when I was about 16.
3. Who knows about it?
I actually try not to hide my mental illnesses. My parents, friends, school administrators, and teachers know about it because they have to, but if it comes up in conversation or someone asks about it, I’m not shy to share. I find that sharing is relieving to me and it helps others know they’re not alone.
4. Do you receive treatment for it?
I see a therapist and a neurologist and I take many medications to help me.
5. Has your mental illness stopped you from doing anything?
Oh god, YES! The biggest thing it’s affected me in is school in that I have extreme academic related performance anxiety. This has lead me to not study for tests, skip classes, and have to skip tests (and retake them later). The anxiety and depression have worked in tandem to make me skip classes. My depression has gotten in the way of me going out with friends or even hanging out with them period. I feel like I’ve missed out on a lot of life in my 20s due to mental illness.
6. Is there anything in particular that has helped you?
Medication, medication, medication. The right medication does wonders! My family is a big fan of “better living through chemistry,” as my mom calls it, and believes that with the right dose of the right medications things can get a lot better (and I, personally, have experienced this).
7. Can you describe what it feels like to have your mental illness?
Anxiety feels like…like hell. It feels like burning alive. You know what’s happening and yet you can do nothing to stop it and no one can save you. No matter how much you fight, you can’t do anything about it. But it’s also a quick death, there’s that sense of immediacy and urgency that fire brings with it.
Depression feels like drowning in a tank slowly filling with water. Instead of the quick death by fire that anxiety is, depression is slow. You flail, trying to swim, but your motions are encumbered by the wight of the water and limited by the walls of the tank. They say that death by drowning is the most painful. That is what depression is. In a gif, it feels like this:
ADD/ADHD feels like I never have my mind together. It feels like there’s a hoard of bees buzzing around inside my mind, preventing me from thinking straight or organizing anything.
8. What is a common misconception about your mental health issue?
ANXIETY: That I can just think differently and get over it. That I’m faking it or exaggerating.
DEPRESSION: That I can just think differently and get over it. That I’m just being lazy.
ADD/ADHD: That it’s not real or a valid disability! That I can just get over it. That all people with ADHD/ADD are hyper. I’m a very calm person on the surface, but ADHD/ADD makes my mind a turbulent place.
9. What do you find the most difficult to deal with?
Anxiety for me is the most difficult to deal with. It warps my reality and whispers terrifying things to me at night, telling they’re real until I believe it. Anxiety has stopped me from academia, my true love. It’s prevented me from achieving my goals at this moment because I’m too afraid to even move.
But more than that…The hardest thing is feeling like I’m less than. Less than normal, less than everyone else around me, less than who I used to be. When I was younger, I was so…vivid. I was young and free and talented and a promising student. Now…I feel worthless, like a nothing and a nobody. I’ve been reduced to a shadow of myself, less than human. I feel like mental illness stole my life.
10. Do you have anything else you’d like to say?
Number One: Please stop demonizing the use of medication to treat mental illness. Stop calling us addicts. Stop telling us we need to learn how to handle it on our own. You would never deny a diabetic insulin. You would never deny an AIDs patient their medication. You would never deny your own sick child antibiotics. Our medication is just like all other medications treating any other life threatening illness–and these are life threatening illnesses we’re talking about here.
Number Two: There is hope, even in the darkest of places. I believe that everyone has a fire within them, that burns no matter what. Sometimes it is a raging fire, sometimes it is only an ember, but it never goes away. That’s you. Who you truly are. Never give up on it, because it’s so worthwhile and beautfiul. One day you will burn as gloriously as the sun, a beacon for all to see. Have hope, be strong, and be brave. I have faith in you.