April 25, 2016

I pretended that I didn’t have a mental illness. I lied about why I was in hospital. Now, I won’t hide any more.

I’ve always found it a strange concept how physical and mental health are viewed differently. I mean, when I had tonsillitis I received grapes, get well wishes, plenty of hugs and often my friends would throw a few jokes at my expense due to my lack of voice. When I’ve had a relapse with my mental health however things were different which is strange, after all the brain can get sick like any other part of the body?

I’m not referring my core support network when I say this, those who have supported me regardless through anything, and there have been a few of them. My family, my partner and his family, even one or two friends have been a great support network but that’s not the daunting part of living with a mental health condition, how the rest of the word perceives and treats you is the daunting part. For years I’ve complained over attitudes and views towards mental health and cried about a lack of understanding to those suffering with mental health conditions and so how did I deal with it, I pretended I was okay. I lied about why I was off school for months, I lied about why I was absent from work, or from the girls night out and most importantly I lied about why I was in hospital because I was afraid of the response I would get if I admitted I had an illness, or shall I say a mental illness.

Fast forward ten years and here I am, after suffering possibly my worst relapse yet things are looking different. How can I be hurt over other people’s attitudes towards mental health and people treating physical and mental health differently when I do the same thing? Its isn’t a bad thing to not want to talk about your mental health if you’re a private person, but to not want to discuss your mental health because your scared is not fair. I had tonsillitis, went to the doctor, cried to my mum so she would get me a milkshake out of sympathy and never thought anything of it because it was physical. Yet would take my medication in secret, put a happy smile on and pretend I wasn’t experiencing traumatic thoughts or feelings, because people couldn’t see they just didn’t understand.

Well now I am treating both types of illness the same and have come across the mental health champion scheme, I am making it my pledge to discuss my mental health, my experiences and my feelings because it is acceptable to do so if I feel comfortable enough to do it. Whether you blog for the world to see, have a personal secret diary, or just have one person you can confide in it doesn’t matter, as long as you are treating yourself with kindness. It is okay to suffer with depression, anxiety, distress intolerance and the numerous other mental health conditions people of all ages, all across the world suffer with too.

We should build each other up, empower each other and most importantly support each other because mental illness doesn’t care who you are, how old you are, the money you have in your bank or the class system you were born into. Anybody, anytime can fall poorly with mental illness and you know what, that’s okay. With the correct support you will be okay, remember there is always somebody to talk to and somebody out there who knows how you are feeling. That’s the biggest lesson I’ve learnt this year, probably in my whole life and instead of being ashamed, I’m quite proud. I’m 23 and well done to me, I’m much better, starting to lead my normal life again and my mental illness does not define me, just like my tonsillitis didn’t.

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