September 26, 2016

I'm 21 and starting my third year of university, though technically as I took a year out because of my illness, I am still a second year. I couldn't wait to move out of my home for first year so I could have so well-earned freedom. Throw a mental illness into the mix when you come home for the summer after this utter high of a year, and your life is turned upside down. From here, I first experienced stigma and discrimination.

When you are also juggling a mental illness, in my case mixed anxiety-depressive disorder, everyday tasks become so much harder. "Lazy" becomes a hurtful word. The standard lectures of "oh come on, you haven't seen your dad's side of the family for so long. You're not experiencing anxiety, you just want to go upstairs for the sake of it" and "don't be so silly, you're not depressed, you're laughing!" make you angry and the arguments start. Because you aren’t lazy, and you love your family but cannot stand in a room when your heart is racing and everyone wants to ask you questions and the walls are closing in. You are doing everything at your own pace to just get by.

At university, I have horrendous weeks where leave the washing up, forget to clean my teeth, don't remember to empty the bins, or pay bills. I forget to shower and my appetite is never regular. Friends can think I'm lazy, when in reality I am exhausted. When I don't want to go out, or even drink alcohol they say I'm "boring and need to lighten up". If I try to tell my parents that I need extra leeway because of what I am going through, they just chuck it back in my face and have a go at my for making excuses for not doing housework. They have no idea how much it hurts me - as most of the time I know things need to be done, but my depression prevents it. I have to sleep, I have to meditate, I have to pray.

When I go to lectures, my anxiety flares up and I can't stay. I skip lessons to get fresh air. I'm not truanting because I hate my subject, I am escaping an environment my body cannot stand being in. The way people react to knowing someone they love has a mental illness needs to change. I have started speaking more openly in the hope I can turn their opinions around.

I have faced stigma from family, from friends, from co-workers. You explain that sometimes you have to turn back when on a day out so you can rest, and you get yelled at for being "unfit”. I am sorry if my body gets drained from panicking about the number of people in the shopping centre, or the lecture theatre. I am sorry that the constant emptiness inside me that weighs me down constantly means that I can snap out at you. My depression and anxiety are not excuses for me bailing. Mental illness is serious and I have to look after myself else I cannot be me. Having the courage to speak out and change the minds of those around you to get rid of stigma is challenging, but rewarding.

Stigma and discrimination around mental illnesses is disgraceful and needs to be destroyed. Would you tell a cancer-fighter that they need to snap out of it and get outside? Just because my illness is not visible, doesn't mean that I am not suffering. 

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Comments

Cat's blog

Anxiety description is brilliant. I am so sorry Cat is having to deal with such ignorant people. Very brave to speak out and try to break down the stigma of mental health conditions.

Cat's blog

I'm so sorry you're going through that. Friends and family don't always understand. I had a really uncomfortable conversation with my aunty who basically had a go at me for wasting my dad's money because I've been unable to go to pre-paid dinners sometimes. She doesn't understand that I'm disappointed to - most of the times I've missed, I've picked out my dress, accessories etc and am really looking forward to it! Then the sickness in your stomach starts, your mind starts racing and... that's it. You're going nowhere, you're missing out and everyone is angry with you for it.

There is nothing worse, then

There is nothing worse, then going through hell of depression. You wake up each day, not knowing if you will make it 'till night, or you will simply give in, and end it all yourself. The drugs sometimes help, and sometimes make it worse. Felt like I had no control whatsoever over my own life. But with some help from my family, the people who truly love me, I managed to get myself out of that hell-hole. It took me a while, but I managed to teach myself how to push trough the day, and keep on fighting. In the end, it all comes down to helping yourself get up and fight, because without that no one can truly help you, no matter how much they would want to. To conclude, help yourself, so you could go out into the world, and start truly living, and that will be a cure on it's own. I recommend something that has helped me a lot. It is James Gordon’s system.He is a former depression sufferer, and teaches a totally natural 7 step process which relieves depression from your life. Google lookingupstuff/depression to see the system for yourself

Joining the blog

Hi, I was just trying to see if I could find a blog which discussed depression - related struggles and when I read Cat's post I couldn't help but recognize myself in her words. I should probably tell you that I'm Italian, so try and forgive me random mistakes. Cat, you're brave, you know, facing schools and lectures and dealing with your parents. I feel just the same, But towards work. I'm a Shop assistant At a grocery store and sometimes I Just can't stand being there. There's no particular reason, I Just can't control my Mind, who keeps Telling me to go home,give up my job and start afresh.I feel guilty if I don't go to work because of this problem, Even if my boyfriend tell me there's nothing wrong in suffering from a condito and take some time off because of It. But he's the only one who understands. My mother on the other hand yells At me every time, saying that I Need to go to work because statine At home doesn't sole my problems or pushes my fears away. And then, "you owe them, They give you a job, you can't let them down". Guilty keeps me Company for the best part od my life, often along with fear, self - judgment. I know I should just listen to my Heart and not always to other, cause they 're not me, they're not in my head and don't know what i'm going through. So Cat, basically i just wanted you to know you're not alone.try to be strong, But when you are down, accept It, simply, leave other people 's opinion out for a bit and be gente with Yourself. You just Need to be Kind. One of the few things that i manage to tell myself when i'm in emotional Hell is that the crisis, the phase that seems unberable eventually passes.I'm saying all this also to myself Now cause i'm going through a rough path lately.don't know if i did fin -.- never wrote on the internet

Feeling like no way out

I think everybody who suffers from depression, before realising that you have a condition, you actually believe on what people tells you about you being lazy and not grateful. I was raised by a single mum, and she always told me I was never happy, no matter how hard she would work to buy me stuff. This always hurted me so deep. I've never understood why I would feel so low if everything was fine and I had no reason whatsoever to feel sad. I felt that something was wrong, but I thought I was that way. I was never fully able to enjoy anything, and I always knew what I was missing out. It's so horrible to have happiness in front of you and not being able to enjoy it. I've been on medication for 8 years now, having my high and lows, changing meds here, increasing dosage there, but still fighting.

Sounds like my uni experience

Sounds like my uni experience. I feel an obligation to attend lessons but have intense anxiety when there and have to leave to be able to breathe.

Anxiety and depression

I've been told to look at this site by my partner. Im going through 'one of my phases' as people have described it in the past. it's not a phase....I'm not being moody or sulking.im standing on an edge except when I look down there's nothing beyond the edge. Just one more thing and I'll fall off the edge into an abyss.....I'm hanging on for dear life to stop falling but I'm losing my grip.....it's like when your having a nightmare and your trying to wake yourself up but you can't...you keep having the same nightmare over and over again except you're awake. I crave sleep as a way to make it stop but when it comes it is fitful and doesn't last long. There's a fuzzy moment...just a moment...when I first wake up..of surreal calm and then the panic starts. When I'm like this I can't deal with anything. I get up,go to work and carry on but inside I'm crumbling. I'll suddenly forget where I am...I stare blankly at people....I know they're talking to me but I can't hear them or I just don't understand what they mean. I forget things I've done....no idea whether I've done something or not. I spend the whole time worrying that I've done something wrong and I'm going to get 'told off'. The feeling of inadequacy is all consuming. My behaviour becomes quite extraordinary.....I have angry outbursts followed by floods of tears. I am quite literally nuts during these times but the worst thing is having to pretend 'I'm ok'. If I had a broken leg I wouldn't have to pretend I didn't would I.

Support

Hi Anna, I'm really sorry to hear you're going through that. It sounds incredibly tough, and it's not right that you should have to hide it. Do you have the support that you need for it at the moment? Have you spoken with your doctor about your mental health recently? That would be the first step to getting support if you haven't already. We have some links on this site to other services that offer support: http://bit.ly/1SzXo4B. I hope this is helpful, and I hope you feel better ASAP. Take care of yourself, Tim at Time to Change

SAD

I can relate to this, I've been told that I have severe social anxiety disorder (sad). I can't join in social conversations especially if don't know some of them and then to be told that I'm arrogant and ignorant, also being told that I should try to make more of an effort as I only answer if talked to with as little words as possible, so they are doing all the hard work and I am not. I just can't do it no matter how much I want to. People just tend to ignore me now or walk in the opposite direction to me, even most of my family avoids me. Some tell me to stop making it an excuse and to get a job. I just don't know why they can't be understanding. Obviously I get my symptoms with it, racing heart beat, numbness, dizziness, blank mind, breathlessness, panic attacks. I frequently forget stuff. It used to be frustrating and hurtful when people are saying I'm arrogant and refusing to be anywhere near me and family too but now I'm used to it more and just expect it now. I've tried meds and cbt but cbt don't work with sad. I've had this since early childhood and think now it's too ingrained into my life now.

Anxiety of failing

Hello, for the past 2 months I've been dealing with anxiety. I am at my third year in college and I am struggling with anxiety. Every time I wake up it's there, an unbearable, uncomfortable feeling in my chest that won't go away. I could be thinking about nothing, and I still feel it. It feels like I am in danger and that something is going to hurt me. That something is failure. I know many people say that failure is part of success and that it's alright to fail, but I can't fully grasp that. The fear is still there and at times I accept it and at times I don't want to. I drains my energy and makes me tired but I can't even rest my head because that feeling in my chest won't let me. Thoughts just rush in my head and before I know it, I feel helpless. I'm afraid of failing but after dealing with it for 2 months now, I'm afraid that it'll stay like this. I want to overcome this, not survive it. However, sometimes I just want to give up. Sometimes I feel like I will fail because I'll stress myself to that point. Before you know it I'm stressing because I'm stressing. I just want peace, and the thoughts to stop racing in my head. I just want to fully believe with all my heart that everything is going to be okay, but there is doubt in my heart that I'll fall short and won't make it. I don't know what to do at times. I work hard and do my work in school but the anxiety makes it so much harder to do it and I don't really feel accomplished afterward. This is what I've been dealing with and it's been hard.

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