Having a mental illness is hard work; it can take a lot of effort to pass as functional to the outside world. What makes it really tricky is that it is an invisible illness, and it is usually only those close to you who know the real you and even then, just sometimes, because it is invisible, they forget.
Sometimes you want people to forget you have a mental illness, and other times you need them to remember the hardest part is navigating between the two. But these are small hurdles that must be faced. The greatest problems occur when facing the outside world.
I’ve yet to understand why mental health has taken so long to come to the forefront when it can be a life destroyer. Since the pandemic, it has bought it to the fore again as many people are experiencing mental ill-health for the first time, and there is a shortage of spaces available for those who need therapy. As so many people require it nowadays.
One of the hardest parts of mental illness is understanding it has physical side effects too; most people think it is in our head, but it can also come with aches and pains, lethargy and that’s not to mention the side effects of medication, which can make you feel as though you’ve been in the ring with a boxing champion.
How Long Will It Last!
Mental illness can knock you sideways in such a way you are unsure if you are ever going to recover. When we break a bone, we know in six to eight weeks it will be healed; when we catch a cold, we know in a few days it will be gone, but with mental illness, there is no timeline, especially for those of us with chronic conditions such as bipolar or schizophrenia, these are lifetime diagnoses. If you are diagnosed with depression, the doctors cannot give you an idea of how long it will last; they hope after taking tablets, you will be nearly back to normal within three months, but this is often not the case.
The hardest part is not knowing how long things will last. For instance, I have bipolar, and I never know how long a particular symptom will last. Maybe my depression will last a couple of days, but then a few times, it has lasted a couple of years. My hypomanic spells may last several weeks but then interspersed with depression occasionally.
Trying to explain to someone what living with mental illness is like is near to impossible unless you have experienced it; there are not the words to describe it; even when seeking out counselling sometimes you are left with descriptions that really don’t seem to grasp the totality of the feelings, so we choose lesser words because there are no words to describe the hollowness or euphoria.
There are times when a person with mental illness cannot work, and this means if you are in the UK, you have to explain it to the benefits people; this is one of the hardest parts because a) you don’t want to talk to a stranger who is not an expert in the field about how bad you feel. And b) they are assessing you based on a score sheet that someone else will look at and determine if you can work. It is, in my opinion, one of the most humiliating things, plus you also have the stress of not knowing if they deem you incapable of work. So you may have money worries on top of it all.
Planning is also pretty tough as most days; I don’t know how I will feel this makes plans difficult. I think many people with mental illness have this issue, and it means I have to miss out on events sometimes and why my circle of friends is tiny because I am unreliable. This is one of the hardest things for me that I wish I could stick to a plan and be able to do what is expected of me, but my family and friends always know that if I show up, then I’ll have a good time; I have to make the most of it.
There you have it, these are the hardest things I find to deal with. I would be interested in what you find tricky or what your family find difficult to deal with, you can leave your comments below and I would love to have a read.
Peace & Blessings