It’s not about want pity or being brave. It’s about being real. For a while I aimed to somehow end the stigmatized thoughts on mental illness.
The subject on Mental illness and those who deal with it are part of of a group that is shunned, judged and misunderstood by most. Suicide and chronic pain (like fibromyalgia) are the most judged and misunderstood. those who deal with mental illness need to feel safe and be able to get help without fear.
I suffer from mental illness and all of its ugly and sometimes painful effects including chronic fatigue syndrome and Raynaud’s Syndrome. I am still learning about how my body reacts to certain things but I hope more people are less scared to tell their story without fear or judgement. This has never been my way to gain sympathy or be “over dramatic” like someone once said to me. I just want people to understand that these things do happen no matter how young or old you are.
I do suffer from major depression disorder, anxiety, and fibromyalgia. These are not stemmed from any situational circumstances and I do have suicidal tendencies. I won’t say that some life changing situations didn’t affect me or my depression, but for the most part it’s biological.
As it stands now in society, mental illness is considered a label; a way someone may judge you. Many don’t know how to deal with a depressed person. So it’s easier to pretend it doesn’t exists, title them as crazy, or say things to minimize it. For example, maybe you’re in pain because you workout too much and was told I’m too young to be depressed.
I believe I have dealt with anxiety, depression and constant joint pain during childhood but thought it was normal. I never understand why I was so different. I thought I was just a shy kid or thought it was normal to have so much tension in the body or that I cried a lot to myself when nothing was wrong. It took me until my late 20’s to begin to understand it.
From the exterior, I have always been looked at as an introvert but always laughing and physically strong and healthy. It’s usually a facade. Even though my mental health is not my personality, I still appeared that everything was good.
My first attempt was cutting myself at the age of 17. I don’t remember what lead me to it but the only other reason other became aware was the healing scars I had on my arms (along with an allergic reaction to insect bits). It took a long time to heal due to the sensitivity of my skin. However, I always felt no one liked me or wanted to be a friend of mine. As a black woman, I had to cope with all the mental pain by myself. I didn’t cry everyday but at least once or twice a week alone in my room or the bathroom. I hated when people saw tears in my ears. I have 2 more “cutting” attempts in my early 20’s. Being in 20’s and a black woman, I felt like I was disqualified from having mental problems. Thankfully, I was always too fearful of completing the attempt.
Then the joint pain and tension got more constant. One morning I woke up in my dorm room in college and I could barely get out of bed. I was in so much lower back pain that I roll out of bed. I couldn’t stand up straight. I was in so much pain that was in tears. Even though it cleared after 3 days, my body hasn’t been the same. In 2010, I got sick with mononucleosis. It felt like my body shut down for a week. I felt like I was dying.
Fast forward to 2017 when I finally had an official diagnosis and I was 27. I was diagnosed with major depression disorder, anxiety disorder and fibromyalgia where I take a 60mg antidepressant that focuses on pain management and the symptoms.
I believe suicidal thoughts and suicidal actions are completely different things. Thoughts are thoughts but actions can be a matter of life or death. This is why it’s so important to open up the discussion about mental health, invisible illnesses, and suicide. Statistics show that many completed suicides are not initial attempts. Those that need help are not just those who have suicide thoughts but those who already tried to take their own life. I know first hand because I felt like a burden and that I didn’t deserve to receive any help. I wanted everyone to think I’m okay and a normal woman.
Many do not understand that it’s an ongoing illness that doesn’t disappear. The most important thing a person can do is really listen and not judge.
We often feel the need to be perfect. We are thought to obey, sit down and apologize. We are taught to doubt ourselves. We aren’t taught to to speak for ourselves and be confident in our voice. as a result, we don’t really live the life we want to live.
In reality, we fail at having courage to live like it’s some special thing for special people. Unfortunately, failure is inevitable. It’s something we all experience. As an introvert, I do things that scare me. As a woman with anxiety, I do things that are scary but failure is something you just can’t avoid. So I say, be open to new experiences as women.
Little do a lot of people know, that I have many anxiety habits. Sometimes it mixes with depression. It can be debilitating at times. These things just happen often.
1. I touch my face and hair a lot searching for imperfections.
2. I am very apologetic even if I didn’t do anything wrong. I can’t control it because I always feel like an inconvenience.
3. I get annoyed very easily, but I handle it different than others. Sometimes I go in to a silent rage, sometimes I cry to myself, and sometimes I can even get numb.
4. I sometimes forget. My mind will go blank, but come back to me at random moments. I’m not forgetful, just overthinking too much.
5. I worry about every little thing. My dad noticed this when I was younger. I really can’t help it.
6. I get restless a lot. My legs always seem like they need to move even when I’m trying to rest.
7. I am talkative when I get manic. I’m relatively a quiet person but when my anxiety kicks in I talk because I hate the backward silence.
8. I’m embarrassed to laugh in public because it’s awkward. I’m told I laugh too loud and I get super embarrassed.
9. I always have headphones in my ears. Even though I love music, it is also because it helps with social anxiety. It’s easier to block out the noise around me. I get super annoyed when someone tries to speak to me when I have headphones on. I don’t want to be rude, but I don’t really want to talk about it especially when I’m in transit.
Is there something you experience that you like to add? Let me know in the comments.
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Everyone knows what it feels like to be really tired or even burned out or exhausted. It can be a variety of different reason from a long work day, or running errands, fun-filled week or even pulling an all-nighter. Usually a good nights rest will help and you are back on your feet the next day.
However, when you have a chronic illness (like Fibromyalgia) or even a mental health issue, one of the most common symptoms is chronic fatigue. This kind of “tiredness” is different from your normal tired a healthy person may feel.
For the longest, I used to wonder why I would get so overwhelmingly exhausted. Sometimes even at the same time everyday. For me, it always feel like my entire body is like sand. Or it feels like my entire body is weighed down with lead. There is no sleeping it off or relaxing it away. Sometimes it uncomfortable. I do whatever I can to function.
The comments I receive aren’t of support or empathy. I don’t necessarily get bad comments but I am always seen as a complainer or someone who is negative after being asked how I am doing. I am always told:
“You shouldn’t be tired”
“You’re too young to be tired”
“Was you up all night?”
It is a stigma within itself, especially when you are younger, black woman.
Sometimes, I don’t even need to sleep. I usually just can’t be up any longer. I loose half my concentration. I am usually tired in every sense, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally as well. It’s debilitating. What so many people fail to realize is that chronic fatigue is a condition and a symptom of a current condition. To know that it is my immune system attacking me and my brain always on overdrive. It doesn’t get easier but I’m aware.