sorry for the long hiatus.. I’ll be a bit more freer for the next two months, until the exam results come out and then which I will start the cycle all over again and prepare for the next exam in March 2019. Persistence and resilience or is it stupidity and foolishness? It’s not clear any more.
Anyways, hope you guys have been well.
Today I would like to discuss why it is so hard to discuss Mental Health…There is more “awareness” of it, but I feel very much so, people are still hiding it and are still afraid. Just like how the homosexuals are more welcome, many still hide their sexual preferences for fear of stigma. People with mental health issues want to pretend that they are normal, they fear people will treat them differently if they disclose…or that they will be afraid/mean or spread rumours.
People can be so mean and cruel, by the things they say intentionally or unintentionally.
To be honest, things like “Mental Health Awareness Month” or “RU OK” days…to me its just “Going through the actions” …no one is going to disclose to you their hidden secret of 10 years of struggling with suicidal thoughts, just coz u asked them if they “R OKAY?”
I suspect the real answer they would give. “Yeah I am fine.” – Hiding, because it takes a lot of courage and strength to admit to someone you are struggling and even more to admit you need help.
I believe through developing our existing relationships better to facilitate more open relationships will instead help build a more caring environment around us so that less people will feel so isolated and alone.
From experience, once someone opens up to you or you to them, you will realise that so many of the things you fear, experience and have gone through, is more common than you think. Your brain tells you, YOU are the only one going through this trial and that NOONE else understands, BUT the truth is, if you reach out, you will find others who DO understand. …
So why not give it a try?
If it’s hard to open up in person to those around you, I see no harm in posting in trusted mental health websites like Beyond Blue or Black Dog Institute. Even on the Mighty websites I have read so many articles that describe situations just like mine, I believe if you start realising that others have gone through, and managed things before you, their wealth of knowledge and experience can be a very valuable thing to have.
A common question I suppose that people that do not have mental illnesses may ask, is..
“How could someone be so stupid to hurt themselves?”
“Don’t be silly, you wouldn’t do that to yourself!”
“How can you be so selfish…thinking about yourself all the time?”.
“Don’t you know by trying to kill yourself, you will make us be sad?”
People who don’t understand mock and make fun of vulnerable people…and yet people wonder why there are so many people that are hurting inside and are afraid to show it…suicidal and people who self-harm are scared..often they don’t want to bring attention to themselves.
Well meaning people that love someone suicidal…make them say ..
“Promise me you will never do that again?”
Do you know what I think that means to me?
If I get suicidal thoughts, I won’t tell you …because I can see how sad it makes you and how upset it makes you…
People who want to end their lives, don’t do it because they want to hurt those who love them around them…they want to lessen the burden that those around them feel..
Often they know they are worried about them…and want to remove that burden from them
Sometimes perhaps no one cares about them and no one would care that they died.
Each case it is different…but most often or not…they just want an end to their suffering…
When getting up each day is a struggle…why would you get up at all? When each day feels meaningless, bleak , hopeless and painful…Why would you want to face the day?
When a simple task like brushing your teeth takes you an hours to get the energy for it…why even bother?
Eating…SO MUCH EFFORT
I know to some this sounds like “laziness” but this can also be called “depression”.
Before you judge someone else for being “lazy”…why don’t you ask them “How are you doing…honestly?”
The world is full of judgmental people…where are all the nice people gone?
Sometimes…we are hurting so much inside…wearing that mask all the time..no one knows how you feel..
Others only notice that you aren’t talking to them as much..
But they don’t really want to know how you are…they just talk to you so that they can talk about themselves. I am sure we are all guilty of it at some stage…but like when it’s like that all the time…the time and energy that we already don’t have…is expended on you…it sucks all energy that is remaining.
So sorry, if I don’t seem like I care about your problems…however, trivial or serious they may be. I need my cup to be full before I can fill yours. I feel like I am lying through my teeth when I try to cheer you up, when I am so down myself.
I believe most people don’t like going to work…getting up early when its cold outside? No thanks! But, for those with mental illnesses, it can be torture and takes all their strength and energy to get out of bed. A typical day for me in the past in a retail pharmacy job would be something like this…before I decided to finally get help…
The thought of making small talk with people you might not really like or know is tortuous. Thinking of who will be in the lunchroom with you during lunch time is daunting too. What if your boss asks to speak to you?
The struggle to leave the bed
Maybe you should just stay home today?? But, we can’t do that! That means explaining to your boss that you don’t feel week and that’s lying and what if they fire you? You can’t tell them you have a mental illness, they won’t care, they won’t understand, they will judge you and label you as crazy, they will think you are faking a sickie. No one is going to hire you. You worked so hard to find this job. You thought that you could join a place that is ‘against discrimination’, but we all know that the stigma still exists. It is safer to be quiet, to be silent and to fight the battle alone …for as long as you can.
You count the seconds that you can get home
But today, it’s different, the depression comes back…it’s always been there…but you have been fighting it. You are barely able to muster enough strength to go to work. You’ve done it before, you can do it again. Counting down the hours, minutes and seconds till you are back in the comfort of your bed. Where you are safe, where no one can harm you, bully you and make you feel like you are nothing. You don’t know if you are overreacting or if it’s the depression.
Lying that you are Fine
On the off chance, someone might ask you how you are. “I am fine thanks. Just tired” That’s the best you can come with. If they ask “Why are you tired?” …”Oh, couldn’t sleep”…Due to my racing thoughts of suicide and anxiety. But you can’t say that, can you? They are being ‘nice’, but hey I am not going to unload to some stranger…Work really isn’t the place for that. I think. Please don’t look at me. I don’t want people to notice my sadness. I don’t want to be noticed, I just want to pretend everything is okay. I don’t think you really care.
You are not productive at work
You are surprised you haven’t broken down on the floor crying. You hold back the tears. You feel guilty…There are sicker people who come to get medicine for all sorts of terrible diseases, yet they are still smiling. Yet you, faking that smile, feel like you are dying inside. So many people are on anti-depressants, but I don’t want to get help…what is work finds out? I work full-time…there’s no time to go see a doctor or a psychologist. These things are bloody expensive as well! No one can help me. It’s just a phase…I will get better on my own. I can’t wait for the weekend so I can sleep through it.
I can’t deal with small issues
When something small doesn’t go to plan, I just can’t problem solve anymore. I feel like there’s no alternative, there is no way. I am going to get fired for not being able to solve this. I am afraid to ask someone for help, they are going to judge me and look at me like I am stupid. It’s all my fault…I don’t know how to fix this! Why am I so useless and dumb?
My memory becomes like mush
My brain is constantly fighting with itself, flight or fight. My heart is racing and I am sweating. So nervous… I forget things easily, wait how many boxes of Sertraline do I need to order again? Was it 2 or 4? What was the password again? Oh, I left my keys in the car again. Oh, I also left my phone at home…Why I am so forgetful? Why am I stupid…repeat above. Why do I feel like I am going to cry over this small thing?
I feel ugly and I hate my reflection
I can barely wake up in time to get to work, let alone care about how shi* I look. My hair is a mess, it’s too long, but I can’t bring myself to get a haircut. It’s too much effort. Who cares anyway? The makeup doesn’t even hide the eye bags due to the constant lack of sleep. I feel like I’ve grown older. I stare at the mirror… Who is that soulless person that stares back at me? I don’t even know her? Why does she look so sad? Why is she so ugly?
No one is going to like her.
I feel apathetic
The normal me, before I became severely depressed, was happy, outgoing and chatty. But when I started at this toxic workplace, I lost it all. I became someone who I didn’t know. I didn’t care about the patients that walked through the door, I couldn’t handle the rudeness with a smile anymore. I just froze and fought back tears. My resilience was gone. The terror of the increasing number of mistakes made the anxiety worse. It made me even slower and made people doubt my abilities even more. I get taunted by the bully, “You are too slow! Why are you so useless?” You don’t need to tell me, I already know.
The depression makes you stay where you are because it feels even scarier to change
Familiar is not always good. When you stay in a toxic situation, it’s like being in a room full of Carbon Monoxide, it will slowly kill you. The depression lies to you, the bullies lie to you, you can move. You are more than their taunts, you are more than what you think you are. But you don’t know this. You only find out when you leave the toxic place and realise, that a good workplace might exist.
Well, that’s all the blabber from me today.
I am sure there are benefits from working, income, kill time, learn things and make friends…That can be another post.
By the way! Just wanted to say thanks to all the people who have been visiting this page from my The Mighty articles which are basically modified versions of some of my blog posts…! I’ve got quite a diverse crowd of people from all over the world! America, Japan, Korea, Canada and today even Venezuela!! so HELLO to you and THANK you for clicking!
Anyway, this isn’t my normal type of “How to” post, it’s just a rant about all sorts…
Just wanted to write a quick note about why I haven’t been updating as often…I recently started working a casual job so have been busy training up for the role! It’s been exciting for the first couple of days! Sensor thingy to enter the door, ID card etc etc…seeing cool stuff I’ve never seen before and learning heaps… Also along with it comes anxiety from all the new people, new things…and yeah I also managed to lose my ID card on my first day on the floor….I am fantastic
I’ve been training with different people each shift and it’s both a blessing and a curse…good that I don’t get stuck with someone I don’t like for the whole time and sorta bad coz i don’t get to stick with one person that I get comfortable with…
Working in secret with an mental illness . But, I feel so many companies still have stigma with people who disclaim their mental illness. I am feeling nervous about writing this post now.
But what good does it do, if we continue to hide and pretend everything is okay?
But anyways, most of the people I have met have been super nice and I am really grateful that they take the time to train us up. Because I would be completely lost if not for that!
There is a lot of structure involved in this company as well…though the morning shifts are really early and I have to sleep super super early…can’t wait for weekend sleep in..!
But yeah! More updates about the struggles of the working class later…
But, working again has made me have to wake up early in the morning and use my phone less…because I don’t have as much time as before..especially with my uni studies starting next week…
I took part in an experiment which measured the use of social media in a week, my randomised action was that I had to delete the Instagram app on my phone and not use it for a week. Though I was tempted a few times, I quickly asked my self, is it necessary to show the world where you are? What you are eating? Who you are with?
After some deliberation, I think not. So why do people like to post so many selfies of their face on Instagram?
I have to admit, I didn’t realise that I was so lonely, until I deleted a lot of my apps, Facebook, Whatsapp, Youtube, Instagram and realised this is the way we ‘communicate’ with some many people. It is what connects us? Yet, also tears us apart. Is there going to be anyone who wants to meet up with me to catch up instead of sending a message? Truly, I am not sure if the world is closer than before or even further away.
So many people are isolated and lonely…and they can sit in front of a computer or phone screen scrolling through the ‘happy’ snaps that their ‘friends’ are posting of their ‘family’, their ‘holiday’ or their latest ‘home’ that they bought. While I am not saying these things are bad, but do you know what you are doing? Are you trying to rub it into everyone else’s faces that you have it better than them? Are you even genuinely happy or do you just want attention?
As I said, I am full guilty of this…I am insecure, I want attention, I want to fool my self that my life is happier, more interesting and better than it is. I don’t want people to see me down, to see me sad or lonely, I feel like people would criticise me…belittle me.
Recently, I have realised that well-meaning ‘friends’ have offended me greatly. I read a quote today,
It is easier to forgive an enemy than forgive a friend.
It is true though…because we actually care what our friends say and when they make us feel like shit without knowing it, you ask yourself are they even your real friend? They don’t know the struggles you are doing through and are insensitive bitches. This is why I boycotted pretty much all social media. I feel like I am dead, like hardly anyone talks to me now, except family and a few selected friends overseas through Line and Wechat. When did our world become so involved in facebook? Instagram? Snap Chat? When we leave it, it’s like we are dead and forgotten in the world. When we meet someone new, we don’t ask for phone numbers or emails anymore, no we ask for Facebook accounts. SO what if I don’t have one? Are we not going to keep in touch?
It feels weird sending someone a text and them not replying and you not knowing if they have ‘seen it’…but what can we do?
Man, I am getting so hyped up typing this.
So…. back on topic…how do you isolate yourself from social media? Just delete your apps, log out, delete and deactivate your accounts. Hopefully, those that you are actually close to, will call your phone or send you a text.
Addiction to social media is draining, stupid, harmful and time-consuming. It can definitely lead to FOMO and low self-esteem. Live life how you want to live it and stop looking at what everyone else is doing. what happened to human interaction? When did we become part robots with phones attached to our hands?
I am going to off with a quote by Thomas Edison himself…The guy who invented the ‘lightbulb moment! and the light bulb too’ …
“Of inspiration one percent; of perspiration, ninety-nine.” -Thomas Edison
So anyway, the point of this quote is that sometimes I don’t feel like writing because I don’t feel inspired to write…but the thing is… If everyone waited for inspiration before they did something great, we would all be waiting around a lot longer for that season 2 of The Good Doctor (shameless plug for my fave show) or the next series of our favourite Netflix Tv Shows (I don’t have Netflix so I am not sure whats on there..). But yes, the main point I am trying to make is that I will try consistently write in this blog, whether or not I am inspired because I have a lot I want to write about but I sometimes don’t feel it is not good enough, interesting enough or it may be written by someone else better. But anyway, everyone has their unique opinion and view and I am interested in hearing your views too.
Also, shout out to ‘The Mighty’ Autism Facebook page and on the main site here for featuring my post on Autism!! I’ve never had anyone except for my sister edit my work and I am forever grateful that they made my text more readable… Hopefully, thanks to the additional exposure to a greater audience, the awareness of Autism will continue to rise!
Anyways, enough babbling from me and now onto the topic of ‘How you can help someone with a mental illness’..The dos and the don’t dos’..does this sentence even make sense? Well, you get my drift right?
1. Please do take it seriously when we disclose to your our mental illness…
It takes a lot of courage and boldness to share about our internal struggles with the outside world. A lot of hurt, addictions and the stigma that surrounds it can prevent us from sharing. We get affected by how you react, how you might think and the way you may behave towards us after we share with you. No, it’s not just going to go away, it is there for life. Sure, we can manage it with drugs, therapy, and lifestyle changes, but it is a part of us and it has shaped us to be who we are today. So, please don’t belittle our condition, it’s not like we chose to be born with it..or for it to be part of us.
2. Don’t compare my struggles to your own life-every story and person is different.
This is more so for the people who don’t have the mental condition you have and they try to dismiss your anxieties as something that will pass…They even might say… “I had it worse than you in my own days!” Often this is said by a well-meaning older person to cheer the sad younger person up… but it does NOT help. Your circumstances and mine are different, we are two different people and just because you can’t see my illness, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. From my own personal experience, being brought up in an Asian Christian family meant that Mental Illness is the taboo topic that no one talks about and it made me believe I was flawed and that I had to keep my struggles to myself. I have nothing against Christianity, but I do believe they need to acknowledge that Mental Illness is real as high blood pressure is and may need treatment! Back when I was going through a really hard time due at an old workplace, I finally saw a GP about my insomnia and he diagnosed me with anxiety and depression. He said I should see a psychologist and that I should start medication. I didn’t really want to start medications, so I said I would think about it. I talked to my leader at that church about it and they advised me not to take medications, but to pray to God to heal me instead. So, I continued my suffering…until it got so bad and the suicidal thoughts were real…I talked to a pastor of the church about my struggles and she was like…start the medication…You are in such a bad place-even faith can’t help you right now. Anyways, point being, mental illness is a real condition and while it cannot be cured, you can ‘manage’ it.
3. Do keep in touch regularly with your friend/family member that is struggling in their mental illness and don’t take it personally if they are not as ‘happy and fun to be around’ or ‘outgoing’ as they used to be
Having personally experienced multiple depressive episodes, I know the struggles and difficulties of even getting up in the morning from bed! A social gathering with many people I don’t know very well? That’s like me climbing Mt. Everest mate! That’s a lot of effort for someone with social anxiety and depression. While we don’t want to be alone, we don’t have the energy to interact with people and to pretend to be happy and nice to people when we are dying inside. I have had to cancel on numerous people due to being sick because I have been too anxious and had panic attacks… Most people don’t even know I have them, because I am usually reluctant to go out if I feel one coming on. I once went out with someone, who took my panic attack symptoms to be a joke. Literally. They just laughed at me and did not take me seriously…That…really hurt…and made me want to avoid all social contact for a while ( and avoid them)…until I started to trust and build a closer friendship with people that aren’t like them. There are people who will understand you and there are people who don’t and you don’t have to be friends with them. Eff them. Sorry for the angry rant and bad language… What was I talking about again? Oh yes, please continue to reach out to them! Maybe you can’t physically meet up with them, but you can message them with encouragement, love and let them know that anytime they need/want to talk that you are there for them..<3
4. Do Help them with resources to help themselves and encourage them to seek help
If someone tells you they are struggling, don’t think that you are now responsible for their well-being and to prevent them from doing harm to themselves. Yes, you care about them, but well all aren’t a trained professional therapist (that’s great if you are! keep doing a good job) and psychiatrists. So, while we can offer peer support, we can help them with real therapy and medications. Let them know about different helplines, drop in places and understanding GPs that can help point them in the right direction. If they are worried about going to their first therapy alone, maybe offer to accompany them for the first few times, until they feel comfortable going alone. Help them build a support network for themselves and this helps you as well so that you don’t have to bear the full weight and responsibility for their well-being. Recommending good articles, websites, books, music, and movies about mental health also help increase their knowledge about the disease too.
5. Don’t stereotype people by their mental illness
I’ve touched on this in a way on my post about Myths about Autism. Mental illness manifests differently in everyone and by judging you aren’t helping the situation. Even if we have a common certain mental illness, each person’s experience of it is different. After learning that I might have autism, I have since then had the opportunity to meet many others that also have autism…and I can say without a doubt, that they come in all shapes and sizes. Extroverts, introverts, non-verbals and just your everyday quiet dude and they are mostly all interesting people. There is no point in trying to generalise, but there are common traits. One other thing I thought I may add here, is that I have found sometimes doctors don’t take a certain physical symptom I have seriously because they think it is due to ‘my mental illness’. This can include things like my asthma and recurrent migraines (oh it’s just because of your panic attacks, anxiety, and insomnia!) ..but the thing is I literally can’t breathe MADAM and I also have asthma… Also, I have ended up in the hospital due to my ‘migraines’… Hope you get my point.
Anyways, I am sure there are many more dos and don’t do in interacting with people with mental illnesses. I am curious as to what people have said to you because of your mental illness – Please comment below.
Sorry, it is a somewhat angry post…I not only want to be angry, but I also to change the situation by writing this in the hopes that you can better support those with mental illness.
I just read an article which helped put into words some of the things that I really want to say. Though it is not written by someone in Australia, some of the things the author experienced, I too experienced myself while trying to navigate my way in the mental health sector in Australia. If you have about 10-15 minutes, please read this article! It is quite long, but very detailed, personal and emotionally interesting. She details how (and I am also guilty of it), how mental illness has became somewhat ‘mainstream’ as in people are talking about it, but the thing is the mental health sector isn’t keeping up. There are massive waiting lists for help, the costs involved are great and the medications are expensive. When we tell someone that there is a lot of help available, is there really? I feel like we have come a lonnnng way from a 10 years ago, but there is still A LOT that can be done.