Do you feel alone in your mental illness, even though you know there are countless people dealing with the same thing?
It’s no secret that mental illnesses are widespread and experienced by many. They seem to be the plague of our time, at least that’s how I see it. I, and many people I know, suffer from anxiety and depression. Being a mom seems to bring these issues to a whole new level. Not only do I have to deal with my own stresses and problems, I have to worry about the survival and well being of other humans!
If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’ve also been diagnosed with a mental illness, or you know someone who has. Maybe you are just curious, but I’m pretty sure there’s not a single person out there who isn’t affected by mental illness either directly or indirectly through the people close to them. I know there are many disorders aside from anxiety and depression, but those are the two that I have been diagnosed with, and I don’t know enough about any of the others to have much insight.
A good thing about the time we live in is that the stigma around mental illnesses is starting to really go away. You can find posts all over the internet and social media where people are honest and candid about their struggles. The world definitely isn’t perfectly understanding when it comes to mental health, but we have come a really long way.
So what’s wrong with that? Well, nothing really. I am SO glad that there are people out there who know what I’m going through, even though I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. I’m here to talk about how easy it is to feel alone, to feel isolated despite being part of a large group of people.
Even when I see a friend or acquaintance “reveal” their depression on Facebook or Instagram, there’s a part of me that thinks, “okay but I bet they’ve never felt how I felt…” or even “there’s no way they really have depression” as if it’s somehow reserved for me and only me! It sounds ridiculous, I know, but it does cross my mind from time to time. I’ve even (sort of) figured out why!
Whenever I am going through a dark period, where the depression and/or anxiety is really crushing me and there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel, I feel as though I am the only person in the world who could ever feel so low. These feelings of despair, these hopeless thoughts surely couldn’t exist in the mind of anyone else! Sometimes I think there’s a part of me that wishes my anxiety was “special” or made me “unique.” If everyone and their dog has anxiety and depression, then am I the only person who can’t cope with it? How the heck is everyone else managing their lives and seeming so normal? It’s like the mental illness can’t be my excuse anymore for any of my shortcomings.
These are all irrational thoughts, of course. But they’re there. And they’re part of the disorder. Can anyone reading this relate? I’m sure you can. Right?! I don’t REALLY want to be the only one in the world with depression!
I wanted to get my feelings out there, but before this post gets too long, let me tell you that you are not alone no matter how hard it is to believe that. Sometimes you might actually want to believe it. Maybe you enjoy self pity. I know I like to feel sorry for myself sometimes (what’s wrong with me?! Oh yeah… mental illness). Maybe it feels good, in a way, to let yourself spiral. To lose yourself to your emotions and retreat into the darkest corners of your mind. Just… promise me you won’t stay there.
I know when you’re having a bad day, it’s incredibly hard to remember what it’s like to feel happy. You know deep down you can be happy, but it also feels impossible that you’ll ever feel happy again. So do yourself a favor, and write down everything you’re feeling. Do the same thing when you are having a good day. That way, you can have something to cling to when you’re having a bad day again.
I hope you’ll visit when I post again, because I plan to share more honest feelings and also my ways of coping. If you have any questions, or any strategies you’d like to share, please reach out to me. We need each other!