Mental health isn’t just one thing. The same disease can manifest itself completely differently in different people. This means that it can be particularly hard for people to understand if it’s not something that they’ve gone through. And, even if they have gone through struggles with their mental health, even the same disease, they may just not understand the way that it affects you. Now, this doesn’t make them a bad person, and it doesn’t mean that they don’t love you. My family tries to be incredibly supportive of me, but they don’t always understand what’s going on in my head. I don’t always know how to vocalize what is going on either. There are days that it’s a struggle to get out of bed, and have a shower let alone exercise. It’s incredibly frustrating when someone tries to say “Well, I’ve struggled with depression, but you just need to get out of bed.” It’s like, “Okay Jane, I’m happy that you could do that, but it isn’t that easy for me.” All that it does, is make me feel more depressed because it makes me feel like a failure. I had to learn that it’s not all the same, and what works for one person, won’t always work for another.
Having people that support you is so important, but at the same time, how they support you is crucial. There have been days when my family does what they think is ‘supporting me’ and all I want is for them to leave me alone because they just don’t get it. I don’t want to be dragged out of bed, and be grounded for not doing things, when I am mentally not able to do anything in that moment. Then it just make me feel shitty because I’m being punished for not being able to do something. It’s important for people to know that mental illness is not a choice. If I could, I would choose to be mentally healthy, so that I don’t have anxiety attacks and miss school, or so that I can leave the house and go for a run and not be curled up in my bed feeling like my life is worthless. And just because I act happy doesn’t mean that I am. Yes, of course there are days that are great, but don’t assume that you know what I’m feeling because I ‘appear happy’. Sometimes I manage to rustle up enough energy to appear normal. There are days when I have had a full blown anxiety attack, gotten myself to work or school and acted normal even though I felt horrific. I appeared to my high school counsellor perfectly normal, and then didn’t go back to school for a month because of my anxiety. It affects everyone differently, and while I’m fine talking about it, I have major anxiety about my anxiety and anyone seeing it. Basically, what I’m just trying to say is that there is no one size fits all with mental health. Not with the disease, nor the symptoms and certainly not the treatments. But it’s important for us to know that we’ll get there.