How are you?

This quickly becomes one of your least favourite questions when you suffer from mental illness. The majority of people who ask this, generally mean in it in a pleasantry kind of way. Not in a literal, spill all your internal feelings kind of way.

I have got to the point now where I generally answer ‘Tired’ or ‘Getting There’ because I am not okay most of the time and the constant need to be positive is more detrimental than not.

When suffering from mental illness you tend to address things differently, you see things in new light. When I ask someone how they are – I am genuinely interested in how they are, regardless if that happens to be ‘My world is crumbling down and I don’t know what to do’ or if they’re happy as a pig in shit, having the best day of their lives.

I like to listen, I always have done. I’ve spent many years feeling like I am not heard, like nobody wants to listen that I always make it my goal to be the ears that do. To be the eyes that read that message and the shoulder to hold all those tears. I know what it feels like to not have it, so I have to do all I can to give it. Some days it’s harder to do that than others, but I still do my best.

Lots of people think depression means weak, scared, overburdened and many more of those awful negative things, and it is in its own way. However, we are still humans, still capable of that connection and are still loyal to our friendships. We may feel like the universe is going to suck the life out of everything we do like a Dementor, but we still have the ability to listen and communicate – for the most part. We still want to hear how you are doing, what life has in store for you. We can still celebrate in your happiness and grieve with you in your sadness.

Compassion doesn’t fade because the black dog came for tea. I feel like people are too scared to talk their problems with me any more, because it might be too much for me to handle. Most people would never guess I have anxiety or depression, I should win an Oscar for my ability to play the ‘everything is great girl’ to the general population.

Don’t feel like you are going to drown us by sharing your woes, you won’t.

‘How are you?’

Tired.

 

Walk a mile in my shoes…

Every person in life will have a different journey. Though experiences may be similar, events, friends & family may be the same, the journey will always be different.

It’s all personal, the way each of us experience the same situations and encounter various people. We’re built up and broken down at different times and in different ways. You may be able to relate to certain things other people say, or do but you will never truly know exactly how the rest of the population experiences things.

People struggle with different things, and everyone has something they are dealing with, whether you know it or not. I happen to be very open with my mental illness journey, ergo many people already kind of know what’s going on with me. However, there are days and weeks where I don’t show just how I feel, where the wall goes up and the ‘smiley, I am okay’ Emily surfaces. This isn’t because I can’t say anything, but because I don’t want to.

I have gotten quite good at my Emily act and it’s very easy for my to keep the sensitive, troubled Emily Rose hidden away to the outside world. Many people who meet me are surprised when I reveal that I suffer with mental illness. It’s almost comical to see how their faces simply can’t compute the bubbly smile with an internal hatred of self. It’s a constant draining battle to keep that façade but ultimately, it’s the way of the world. Most people ask how you are as a pleasantry, not because they’re genuinely interested in the inner workings of your brain that day.

You see, despite most people knowing that I have mental illness, I still feel the stigma and I do feel [insert a million negative emotions] for the way certain things can completely change my mood. The happiest situations can still bring on a negative emotion in my head. Which is then followed with a butterfly effect of things that begin the anxiety fuelled spiral into the darkest depths of my beautifully broken brain.

I don’t think we will ever fully understand each other, but we still need to spend the time being open with those we trust. Sharing our experiences and feelings on the different things we all experience, even day-to-day things. It’s important to talk and to listen. To have that human connection and grow strong relationships with people who can help you along in your journey. To build each other up and support each other through the good and the bad times.

Walk a mile in my shoes!?  All this gets you is a mile travelled and possible sore feet because my shoes won’t fit you properly. However, your feet will heal and at the end of it, you won’t know me any better, you won’t feel anything like I feel.  My journey is mine and it’s never going to match yours.

 

Think before you speak. Don’t be a dick. – Week 1

Things that people who don’t understand say when you tell them about mental illness. There are so many, I am going to start this as a weekly feature. Maybe someone might read it and re-evaluate what they say to the next person who has taken the plunge to open up about their mental illness. 


I do have many things in my life to be grateful for. Do you know what? I am

It is possible to be depressed and still be grateful. 

To be angry and be grateful. 

To feel lonely and be grateful. 

To be scared and still be grateful. 

To feel exhaustion and STILL BE GRATEFUL. 

There is nothing more heartbreaking than opening up to someone and hearing anything along the lines of ‘but you have so much to be grateful for.’

Depression doesn’t work like that. I don’t know why I feel like I am slowly drowning in my own sorrow inside, why it hurts to be awake somedays and it feels like an achievement if I manage to get dressed. It just does. That doesn’t mean I am not grateful for the clothes I (don’t) wear or the food I (can’t) eat. The people I (can’t) talk to. It doesn’t mean I’m ungrateful. I’m just unwell. 

When you say something like that it makes people feel guilty. Guilty for being ill, for having something that they cannot control taking over their lives. 

Fuck, we feel bad enough as it is, without you strapping us into the guilt train for another ride into hell for the day/week. 

Think before you speak. Don’t be a dick.