It is sad and disgraceful that mental illness is still a stigma to be hidden. If someone had a physical illness, such as Diabetes, it wouldn’t be a shame to tell others. So what’s the difference with mental illness? More people in the world suffer from mental illness than you think, and if everyone would just open up about it, the stigma wouldn’t exist. Suffering from a disease of the mind is just as dreadful as suffering from a disease that a doctor can prove by pointing to a chart or diagram and saying, “This is what’s wrong.” Those with mental illness may not have a chart to point to, but that doesn’t mean they don’t suffer just as much.
This is what you need to know about mental illness.
You need to know that you’ll feel discriminated against. When your health insurance doesn’t cover the exact medication that you need. When the pharmacist makes a face while ringing up your medication. When someone pulls excuses like, “Oh, you’re acting this way because you’re Bipolar” or “You’re only depressed because you don’t make an effort to go out and socialize.” You’ll feel discriminated against when someone sees your pill bottles and assumes the worst. When people talk about you after you confided in them enough to tell them about your illness. Yeah, you’ll feel discriminated against.
You need to know that the illness will control your body physically. Anxiety could cause you to pass out. To collapse. To lose breath. To have a heavy chest. And to have migraines. Whatever the mental illness, if it becomes too harmful, it can lead to cuts on your arms. On your thighs. On your wrists. And you’re the one who caused those cuts. You need to know that you’ll either gain a lot of weight or lose a lot of weight. This is from stress. Some people “stress eat”, while others starve themselves, throw up, or simply can’t keep food down. You need to know that you may lose hair. Hair on your head. Or your eyelashes, your eyebrows. This is your body reacting to stress. Or, in a sadder situation, this is caused by you. Pulling out your body hair as a reaction to what you are going through.
You need to know that it will be difficult to keep relationships. A significant other can only handle so much of your mental illness, until he or she finally bursts and admits that you’re a burden. They’ll say they’re sorry, but they just can’t be with someone like you. Someone with too much baggage. You need to know that it’ll be hard to keep relationships. But you also need to know that those who cannot take on all that you come with, including your mental illness, are not worth your time.
You need to know that your bed will become your best friend. You’ll live in it, begin a relationship with it. Start to eat in and watch marathons of reality television in it. You can’t get up. Your body is weak, and the thought of leaving home gives you too much anxiety. You also haven’t adjusted to your new medications, which make you utterly tired. Before you know it, you have a “love hate relationship” with your bed, because it’s holding you back from living life. But you just can’t get up, you just can’t get up.
You need to know that everything will be harder for you than for the average person. Simple things like cleaning, doing dishes and even showering all become projects that give you anxiety. Everyday activities will be a challenge for you. You need to know that you need to ask for help. Please ask for help.
You need to know that you should be selective of who you tell about your mental illness, but the truth comes out when you decide who to tell. Those who stay are true friends. Companions. They want to help and they will stay by your side until you get better.
Because the last thing that you need to know is that you will get better.