Whether your friend or loved one has depression, anxiety, or some other long-term mental illness, there is so much going on in their brain that they want to say to you, but find impossible to say. So many emotions are buried beneath the surface, so much they wish you could know. But when you’re in the middle of these emotions, it’s so hard to tell the people who love you about what’s going on your mind.
Being vulnerable hurts and takes time, especially when you’re confused, hurting, or numb to the world around you. So here are seven things that people who battle with mental illness and mental health would like you to know.
DISCLAIMER: Not everyone with a mental illness will relate with these. I am not a psychiatrist, or have any degree in psychology.
We really don’t know.
We have so many emotions or such a lack of emotion, so we aren’t lying when we say we don’t know. Our rational mind has no excuse or reason for what we’ve done or the way we feel. We wish we could give you a concrete answer, we wish we knew how you could help, how we could help ourselves. We’re afraid to explore our emotions or to poke our dead mind back to life. We’re afraid you won’t believe us or understand. So we just don’t know, and we don’t try to know.
So afraid. We’re afraid of ourselves, of failing, of giving in, of giving up, of failing you, of hurting others. We are afraid of waking up and we’re afraid of falling asleep. We’re afraid of letting people see what we’re really like. We’re afraid of how we’ll react to situations that normal people are fine with. We’re afraid that we’ll never get better, that medicine won’t help, that we’ll end up weighing you down. We’re afraid of everything that happens in our mind, and we don’t want it to translate over into our life. At the end of the day, we are afraid.
You might not like our reactions or seeing us struggle, but think how painful it is to be the one struggling with it yourself. We hate it as much or more than you do and we’re trying so hard. Every day we’re waking up and trying. Some days, it’s more fruitful and we are able to function like you. Other days? Celebrate that we’re out of bed. Celebrate that we’re talking. Be thankful we’re smiling. Because God knows we’re trying.
We try, we take our medicine, if we have some. Or we just sit there, to be with you, when all we want is solitude, all we want is sleep, all we want is to pace around the room and try to quiet our mind as it frantically thinks. But instead, we’re with you. We’re trying, and we’ll keep trying.
Not only is insomnia one of the most common symptoms of mental illness, fighting your mind and emotions, keeping everything bottled and neatly packed away takes so much energy. But we aren’t only sleep tired. We’re tired of feeling, of not sleeping, or if we’re hyposomniac, we’re tired of sleeping, we’re tired of living like this, tired of being needy, tired of trying to smile, tired of not being believed, tired of feeling guilty.
We’re tired of not being normal, we’re tired of trying to fix ourselves, we’re tired of eating, of feeling, of breathing. We’re tired of hearing our heart thunder in our ears, tired of our breath coming in heaves, tired of a mind that won’t give us relief.
We don’t remember.
When we say we don’t know or we don’t remember, we truly don’t know or can’t remember. It might be something as serious as forgetting what we did at a party, or as simple as not remembering the first half of the day. We don’t remember. And we hate the fact that a part of our life has been swallowed up and dissolved by our minds. We’re sorry that we don’t remember the awesome time we had, or we don’t remember when we first met, or that we don’t remember being hurt or being yelled at. We just don’t remember.
We’re sorry we don’t remember saying something, we’re sorry we don’t remember hurting you. We’re sorry that we can’t answer your questions at the moment, we can’t do our school work at the moment, and we’re sorry we missed another meeting. Someday, we’ll remember it all again.
It physically hurts.
Our head throbs with our heartbeat, our muscles are so tight you could strum them like a musical instrument. Our chest feels like it’s being crushed, our arms and legs weigh a hundred pounds. We’re nauseous way too often. Food is disgusting or we eat way too much. When we say we have a headache and skip dinner, we really have a headache. Every sound, every sense, the air even has a taste. It’s all intensified to such an extent that if we don’t hide, it’ll cause us to explode.
How can we tell you that we’re dying inside? How can we explain emotions when we’re not even sure about? How do we know if this is what normal people feel like, or if it’s something wrong with us? So we’re okay. Because we choose to press it all down, to hide it for you. Because we don’t want to be that morbid person, we don’t want to weigh you down. We don’t want to hurt you or wear you out. So we’re okay. Because we love you. And we want to be okay.