As someone who has been combatting mental illness for many years, I felt it was important to share this. I have suffered two major depressions in my life and also struggled with three different eating disorders. I know what it means when your mind takes control of every thought and distorts every single one into something upsetting, disturbing and self-destructive. I can honestly feel my head warp internal mind processes into an infernal torture where it seems impossible to go forward in life.
I have professional help and it is the one thing that is helping me face my darkest side. I know I'm not ok sometimes and I can't seem to help those around me understand. They say, “Be happy, you have everything!” but they have no idea what goes on inside my mind every day.
There are days I can't get out of bed, where I could sleep for hours on end, where I feel like doing nothing, since nothing at all makes it better or go away. It's always there, my mind, full
of auto-criticism letting me know I'll never be good enough in my business, in my relationships, in my personal achievements. It lets me know I'm worthless, useless, forever below the expectations of society, friends, family and most of all below the expectations I have of myself.
It honestly does not matter what is going on around me. I have people ask me where I am, where I was, because I certainly wasn't present with them at that moment. I have exercised to the point of almost losing consciousness, I've binged on food to fill the emptiness, I have tried to starve myself to make it all stop, I have wanted to leave this world and free myself from the constant torture of my thoughts.
If I ever try to share any of this I get very little understanding, as if I have invented these problems, that it is me that can control these thoughts, that I do it on purpose, that I'm trying to get attention, that I have “rich people problems”. As though this isn't an acceptable part of me to show because I am meant to be a strong, beautiful and successful business woman who has to be first and foremost a partner, a lover, a friend, a daughter, a boss. This is who they want to see and who they want me to be always.
And that is simply exhausting. Can we not accept that we are flawed, have more compassion, let people who are suffering from mental illness know that even if we don't understand, that we are there by their side, even in their worst moments. Just by being there and accepting our weaknesses, that we don't want to change the "mind" of mental illness by "snapping" out of it or by "being happy". Accept that negative emotions and thoughts are part of us, that it's ok for them to be there and to love us even if we are mentally ill, just as you would love and care for someone with a broken arm.
Help someone with mental illness as you would someone with any illness, with compassion, love, care and closeness and help them get professional help, encourage them to share their problems even if it is hard to hear the darkest parts of us.
No one would hesitate to see a doctor about a physical illness or injury, so why is there still so much shame around getting psychological help for mental illness?
I have people ask me why I talk to a psychologist as if they know what is best for me and that I shouldn't need help for my mind, only weak or crazy people need that. We all need to wake up and make an effort to be more understanding, accepting and compassionate to those that suffer from mental illness. Only in this way can we help reduce suicide and offer other ways out.