Debbie, March 6, 2020

“Mental illness is very real. To the outside world I look clean and presentable, that’s what I look like, but that often isn’t the real me.”

I suffer from complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD), major depressive disorder (MDD) and anxiety, which at times makes my life difficult and unbearable.

I find that mental health is still a very taboo subject. Many people are still ignorant to mental health and don’t treat it seriously because it’s not really visible.

“Pull yourself together”

“Try harder”

“You CAN help it”

“It can’t be true”

“Put it behind you, it happened years ago”

…are only a few remarks I’ve heard. 

Do you seriously think I want this life? If it was that easy to change things, I would – but it’s not.

In my case, I can be going about with my dog and then bang! My head explodes…

I smell something that reminds me of back then, and now I’m in it all over again…

Or I catch a glimpse of a ginger cat and bang! My head explodes…

I see a lorry with those words on it and bang! My head explodes…

Or I see an old man with grey hair and bang! My head explodes…

That’s how easily and quickly I’m back in there. Simple everyday situations that might occur can send me spiralling out of control. That’s my reality, this is how I live. It’s not a choice, it happens and I need to get home.

When people make comments like “oh if it was me, I would be doing ‘this’ instead…” I think, would you like to be me then?

Mental illness is very real. To the outside world I look clean and presentable, that’s what I look like, but that often isn’t the real me. I’m hurting, I’m scared, I’m tired, I’m struggling on the inside, I’m in pieces and a plaster or bandage won’t work but it’s a real illness. 

I don’t choose this, I can’t control who or what I see or smell when I’m out, so actually stepping outside for me is a massive ask.

I don’t blame all my issues on my illness because that’s not true either. But I want people to understand the struggle that we suffer on a daily basis. More awareness is needed on the reality of living with a mental health condition, and less judgment.

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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.