It’s A Medical Condition, Not A Choice

Everyday I learn more about each mental illness. What others go through and more importantly, what I go through. Some of my symptoms I’ve had for such a long time. Only difference is that now I can put a name to it. This does not come with an instruction manual but so many people like to add theirs comments to how I should cope with it. Sometimes I just want to hear that everything is okay.

It takes so much energy to accept my mental illness but I am told that I am too young to have anxiety or what do I need to be depressed about. You don’t have to “go through” an ordeal to have these issues.

With my anxiety, I am always worry about everything when there is nothing to worry about. I don’t choose to worry and I don’t choose to have anxiety.

Knowing that I had depression explains so many issues I have. One main thing is joint pain especially in my knees. I used to assume I was just tall but it was a form of musculoskeletal pain. This also affects my wrists, hands and lower back (L5).

I go through a sensory overload especially when I’m mentally exhausted. Every sound, touch, sight, and smell demands my attention. Nothing is tuned out. I am always on high alert making me mentally overwhelmed and exhausted.

I didn’t chose none of this so I wish people would stop judging me or make assumptions about the way I feel.

High-Functional Mental Illness

There are a lot of things that go on in this world. It is sometimes interesting, sometimes boring, and sometimes lonely. I never thought of myself as I was better than anyone else but always had this weird ability to think. However, I find out I do a lot of overthinking. I thought I had the answers to who I am and why certain things would happen. I am finding out late in life how my body and brain is reacting. I almost believed I was imaging things like the body aches, the overthinking, and the anxiety. However, it is more described as high-functional mental illness.

As I got older, I became more short tempered, cried for no reason, and mania (more described as Euphoric hypomania), which is hard for many to understand. I always get, “you are too young to experience pain, wait until you are older” or “you are just overreacting, it will pass” or “maybe because you mom wasn’t around”. Yes, my mother was not around but I do not know her to develop any resentment or feelings towards her.

I often feel trapped in my own head sometimes. There are times I can’t sleep where I wake up 1-3 times a night. I would experience constant body aches which now I know is called Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain. I always blame whatever was bothering me on myself.

My primary doctor did diagnosed me with generalized anxiety and depression, but everything after that was based on my own research and finally taking the time to really look up every symptom I thought weren’t even symptoms. I can be manic at times. When I was younger I would dance to music (pretty good at it too). Three things will happen when I’m manic: I will talk way too much, act a bit goofy, or have a high enough energy where I am up at 2 in the morning.

The most important thing is I will look normal and I am able to function pretty well. Little do so many people know is that I am pulled between two sides. The person on the outside is grinning (smiling like my dad) and doing everyday things. The person on the inside has social anxiety, mild depression, overthinking, OCD, hypomania, and just fighting to normalize oneself.

I still have that determination and passion to thrive. I just have to always work 10x harder than everyone else. The two biggest feelings is feeling suicidal and feeling I am out of place with society. When I mean suicidal, I do not mean I want to literally attempt suicide. When I say suicidal, I mean I always think what life would be if I didn’t exist. I only have a few friends because most turned their back on me and deceived me, which enabled my severe trust issues. I would put up walls to protect myself. The only reason I was able to really keep myself together is how well my dad took care of me. I never wanted to worry him either. People always ask me why I talk about my dad so much because he really taught me everything and to use my brain rather than my mouth, to think before I act, and to always be aware. Lastly, to take care of myself. I may not have a complete grasp on the mental illness part but I am able to function and remain a responsible adult (most of the time, lol).

Social Anxiety

Social Anxiety is not always what you think it is. When society sees social anxiety, they see a shy introvert who doesn’t go out or say much. I am a shy introvert but I do go out. I actually enjoy traveling. Living with social anxiety is more than just being “shy”. Social anxiety can manifest in many ways.

First, shyness and social anxiety are two different things. Shyness is a personality trait and is not a pre-requisite of social anxiety. Social anxiety is actually classified as a significant amount of fear, embarrassment, or humiliation in a social performance based situations. This usually causes people to avoid these situations even though they want to engage in those activities.

For me, I always have this fear I will say something wrong. I worry about other people’s disapproval. I have always had this fear of rejection and not fitting in. So I tend to hide what’s wrong or my opinions and put this barrier up. No one really understood. I am always called weird or anti-social. I am even self conscious. I would feel like someone is watching me. I do things to improve it but it’s always there. As a black woman, it is almost taboo to have any kind of phobia or disorder.

Social anxiety is the third largest phycological problem in the United States. This type of anxiety affects 15 million Americans each year. Everyone with social anxiety have slightly different symptoms and it is not well understood. I live through it but didn’t know the terminology until recently. To combat it I do find things I really enjoy like traveling and being creative.