Okay maybe you don’t tell them straight away, I usually don’t, though I feel like they need to know about me in case I ever get in a bad way. Just so they are prepared for it - if I suddenly locked myself in my room all day, not eating or drinking, people would probably find me pretty weird if they didn’t know I had a mental illness.
This goes for university especially. Living in a house full of budding students you are expected to go out daily and drink until the sun comes up and, don’t get me wrong, most of the time I’m up for it. But on some of those days, I’ll wake up, then just think “no, it’s not happening”, and stay in bed for the rest of the day. And if you consume alcohol in that state of mind, anything could happen, and I’d rather not risk it.
Luckily, all my housemates know about me. The conversations were really casual but they all know and understand to an extent. When I published my first blog there were people on my course and generally around university approaching me about it. It was nice in a way, people would say “I would never have known.” or “you’re such a happy depressive!”. I don’t know whether to say thank you, or to be like yeah, you haven’t seen the other side of me, she’s not happy at all.
I’m absolutely terrified of my illness
As hard as it is to admit you have a mental illness to someone you’ve just met, or someone who doesn’t know, it’s even harder trying to describe how it is. I’m going to be perfectly honest here: I’m absolutely terrified of my illness. It pains me to admit it but I am scared. Regardless of how long it’s been in my life (probably about six or seven years now), it still scares me when I go into a mood. I’m scared of what I’ll do, I’m scared of what I’ll say, I’m scared of how low I’ll get, I’m scared of whether I’d be able to handle it, I’m scared of hurting those around me, and most of all, I’m scared of the fact I lose all sense of rationality and control in those moods. It scares me to an extent where I’d say to my partner “I’m going into one, this is logical me speaking, and I’m going into one. I’m so, so sorry, just hug me until it’s over.” But of course, it isn’t over for hours, sometimes days, weeks or months if you’re unlucky.
How can you explain that to someone though?
If I’m scared of my illness, it would make other people scared too, and it just becomes a massive circle of uneasiness on both of our parts. If I’m at a party and we get on the subjects, some people are like “tell me what it’s like”, I’d just say “I can’t explain it.” partly because I can’t explain it, but also because I’m afraid that if I say “It’s terrifying, I get scared whenever it happens, it makes me want to harm or kill myself, and sometimes, I forget what I do... pass the chips.” It’s made university life very hard for me. I enjoy every minute of it but there’s a cloud of black smog over me that just reminds me of what I have.
It’s sad really. That I feel scared telling people about me, but also that I’m scared of my own illness. That’s really sad. And that shouldn’t be happening.
So what can I do about it?
Talk. Face up to my fears and talk about it if they’re willing to listen. Maybe I can make even the most narrow-minded people open their eyes and realise that this illness is real. It’s real and it’s scary. At nineteen years old I'm still scared.