I can't just "turn off" my anxiety - it's an illness

Many people think that people like me, with anxiety or depression can wake up one day and decide to ‘get better’. That I can wake up one day and decide to ‘smile, drink coffee and deal with it’. But anxiety isn’t something that I can just ‘turn off’. 

Anxiety isn’t something that I choose to have on a Monday and choose to not have on a Sunday. Anxiety isn’t a decision. It isn’t a voluntary thing that I want in my life day in and day out. I can’t just ‘choose to be happy’.

I hid my mental illness after I was told to 'man up'

I'm a 23 year old man, and I've struggled with my mental health for about a decade. What began as having low moods turned into suicidal thoughts, psychosis, addiction, anxieties and depression. At one point I tried to take my own life.

Growing up with these emotions resulted in me feeling very isolated.

I hid my true emotions as best I could growing up because the few occasions when I mentioned I was feeling low, not even depressed, I was told to ‘man up’ or ‘get over it’.

I was afraid to get help because of mental health stigma

I’m 39 years of age and have struggled with my mental health for the majority of those years. I’ve known for a long time it’s been more than depression, but I never felt able to tell anyone just how bad things were. I’ve been through long periods of depression and long periods of what I now know to be mania, and these episodes have lengthened and intensified over the years. After the death of my friend at the end of last year, everything intensified and not getting help was no longer an option.

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