A Misunderstood Illness

I’m tired.

I’m exhausted.

I’m fed up.

Living with a mental illness is NOT easy. I have been living with depression and anxiety since I was 17. I learned very early on that I would need to become an advocate for myself, and fast. Here I am, still advocating, still fighting. The journey hasn’t been easy. I’ve gotten lost a long the way, turned around, flipped upside down.

Something I don’t think people realize is that when you have anxiety and depression, you wake up every day and know you’re going to have to fight your own mind and very possibly the minds of other people. I wish I knew why stigma’s followed mental illnesses around like a bad smell. I don’t know how else to put it…there’s something wrong with my brain. I went to the doctor. I have a diagnosis, what else could you possibly want from me?!

Along my journey, I have lost jobs because I couldn’t work in a toxic environment that questioned my illness, my doctor’s appointments and my therapy sessions. I’ve grown to accept that I will be forgotten by some people.  Because they simply gave up on me after I have cancelled plans, not shown up to parties, or left crying and/or early. Let me tell you there is nothing worse than seeing that you weren’t invited to something. And you can’t help but wonder that if you didn’t have anxiety or depression or another mental illness, you know you would have been invited.

I wish people were more understanding. I wish that when I cancel plans, or back out, or not show up, or whatever you want to call it, that I’d get an honest response of concern and love. I wish that people knew it is NEVER easy for me to cancel or reschedule plans. I don’t want to do it, but sometimes I have to. My mom has always told me that I am the only person who knows what I can and cannot handle.

I don’t want to be associated with mental illness stigmas. I don’t want to be put in a “box”, because of my diagnosis. I’m tired of being misunderstood, when I am willing to share, teach, advocate. I’m really tired of people saying they “get it” but their actions show otherwise.

I have gotten used to people talking about me because of my mental illness, it’s not always to my face but rather behind my back. I’ve been called emotional, unreliable, crazy, weird, that girl who takes meds, the list goes on.

I will now share with you a post I wrote on Facebook 4 years ago, and it hurts my heart to say that nothing has really changed since then.

“In the past 6 weeks I have heard the following…

“You have more bad days then good ones, eh?” I responded with “That’s kind of what happens when you’ve been diagnosed with clinical depression and an anxiety disorder.”

“You have anxiety…why would she pick you to be a bridesmaid in her wedding?” I responded with “Because my anxiety does NOT define me.”

“Can’t you just choose not to be depressed or anxious today?” I responded with “If it were that simple, my life would be a lot easier. But sadly, it doesn’t work that way…I live with it 24/7.”

“Does anxiety get in the way of you dating?” I responded with “My anxiety impacts everything I do, in one way or another.”

“You’re canceling our plans…again?” I responded with “I’m not having a good day, I’m so sorry.”

Sadly, the list goes on. I am so thankful for everyone in my life who supports me and actually wants to understand what I’m going through. I’ve learned firsthand that some people simply just don’t want to understand depression and anxiety. It’s a real thing! No one makes it up or uses it to get attention. It’s a real damn thing…it’s a mental illness. I have a mental illness. No, I don’t care if you think I’m crazy or lazy or choose to be this way. I care about waking up and battling every day, I care about all those who suffer in silence, I care about making a difference, I care about getting rid of these ridiculous stereotypes.

Please if you have any questions about depression or anxiety, I will answer them. I would love to! The only way things are going to change is if we talk about it and listen and try to understand. And no, it’s not contagious.

Sending love and thank you for reading this.”

I’m not looking for anyone to be perfect. I don’t want to be treated like I’m fragile. I want real honest conversations. I really don’t want to be ridiculed for something that is out of my control. I’d rather it wasn’t used against me, but seen as something I live with, fight, and conquer. Unfortunately, after living with anxiety and depression for 11 years now, I know when a stigma is coming. I see the whispers happening. I know how to prepare myself to deal with the fact that I am not going to be included or invited. That I won’t get asked to do things I did in the past.

I could share stories with you until I was blue in the face. I could give you a list of names of people who have left my life because I am “too much” or “unreliable”.

I’m tired of it all.

But I share to educate people. I share so someone out there reads this and realizes that they aren’t alone. That someone else has been misunderstood because of their “invisible illness”. That not being able to work a full-time job is okay. That going to therapy is okay. That taking medication is okay. That putting your well-being and overall health is more important than anything else.

Keep going.

Ask questions, if you don’t understand.

Be kind.

h.

2 thoughts on “A Misunderstood Illness

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  1. I am very proud of you Hilary. You are one very strong lady. I certainly wish life were easier for you. We are here for you if you need us and you are so welcome to come visit.

    Liked by 1 person

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