Emily, May 31, 2018

Picture of the blogger, Emily

The last time I wrote a blog for Time to Change was when I was 19. I’m now 24 and there’s something I need to talk to you about.

Nine years ago, I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. I started having these feelings when I first went into high school. It all feels like such a long time ago now, but I’ve had time to reflect on the last nine years of my diagnosis.

The first thing I notice is that, suddenly, you become reminiscent of a ticking time bomb. You find that people are walking on eggshells around you because they are afraid that they might say something to upset you. This is okay - not everyone understands, and that’s okay.

From walking on eggshells, you’ll get people asking questions. Again, this is okay. People should be able to ask you questions, if it helps them to empathise and understand what you are going through. One thing that isn’t okay, which I have experienced throughout my diagnosis, is the question of why I feel the way I do.

I asked myself that question a lot when I was first diagnosed. I thought that I was getting these feelings because of my age or because of the stress of school. I thought things would get better in time. After all, I had ‘no reason to feel this way’.

But I soon came to the realisation that this is something I will probably have for the rest of my life, and that’s okay. I’m very lucky to be surrounded by a wealth of love and support. I’m lucky to be employed by a company that takes your mental health seriously.

I am a massive advocate of speaking openly and freely about mental health, but the slightest knock-back can have dire consequences. Not everyone in the world is going to be understanding or empathetic about mental health, and a lot of people will be asking you why you feel the way you do and worse; telling you that you shouldn’t be feeling the way you do.

The problem with mental health stigmatisation is that often you will be judged based upon your life as it stands. You might have a good upbringing or went to a good school. You might have a huge circle of friends and a wonderful family. Therefore, ‘you have no reason to feel this way’. And they’re right. I don’t have any reason to feel this way. And I don’t need to have any reason to feel this way. I do and I can’t help it.

People will often forget that mental illnesses can be biological - they’re not just based on bad experiences. So actually, in the words of Lady Gaga, I ‘probably’ was born this way.

So, here’s two things you need to know right now

1. People with mental illness have zero obligation to explain themselves if they’re in a bad way.

2. People with mental illness shouldn’t be judged based on how good they have it in their life.

I had a good upbringing, I went to a good school, I have great friends and a lovely family. I’m also depressed and I’m anxious, and that’s okay.

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Too many people are made to feel ashamed. By sharing your story, you can help spread knowledge and perspective about mental illness that could change the way people think about it.

Comments

I'm dealing with depression

I'm dealing with depression and I don't know how to tell my parents. I'm afraid that they will tell me I'm just seeking attention. I'm afraid that they will tell me im to young to know what depression is. I would really appreciate it if you could help me out. I dont know how much longer I can hide this with out having an outburst.

Telling Parents

I was afraid of the same thing. I am the youngest of 4 kids and I always thought that I had to keep everything together because they didn't have the time or energy to worry about me. I thought that if I told my parents they would reject me as their child if I could no longer hold up to standards I now realized I placed for myself. It wasn't until I was constantly contemplating suicide every single day that I finally broke down over the phone and told them. There was silence at first, but then they told me that they loved me and said that they had also had problems with mental illness that I never knew about. Mental illness is fairly common even if they are only brief episodes. Plus mental illness often follows genetic patterns. Thus my point is that your parents probably have experienced some kind of depression or anxiety themselves and they will understand. Also, given the fact that you care how they will react lets me know you have some sort of relationship with them. When your depressed and anxious sometimes it can feel like you are all alone or rejected. The more you feel this sometimes you unconsciously are pushing them away. Telling them gives them a way to help you and to understand what is happening. Don't try to do this alone because the weight is far to heavy to bear on your own.

Telling parents

I'm in the same boat as you I'm 24 and my parents have the opinion of me that because I'm a rugby player I will be fine. I on many occasions have attempted to talk to my parents about it but they just change the subject. I have came to the conclusion that it's ok to have depression and anexity no matter your age sex or race. If I was you I would attempt to talk the them about how your feeling and if they follow the same path as my parents and ignore the fact or put it down to attention seeking then I would speak to your closest friend or another close family member. You need to prevent having an outburst and I know it's not easy trust me but your doing great!

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