Communication and accessibility are basic human rights.
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Will you join me in the fight for equality?
One of my goals for this blog is to start creating more content about mental illness. I have struggled with depression and anxiety for as long as I can remember. It is amazing that in our current time, there is still such a stigma surrounding mental illness; It is still a taboo topic. I want to be a part of changing that. I want people to know that discussing mental illness is no different from discussing any other kind of illness. Mental illness is a real illness; it's not a bad character trait or a personality flaw.
One of the reasons that it can be challenging to raise awareness about mental illness is that these illnesses are usually invisible. Most people with mental illness "look healthy". You can't tell I have depression and anxiety by looking at me. Most people with mental illness have been told they don't "look sick" more times than they can count. The only way we can make mental illness visible is if we speak out about it. We have to stop hiding behind the stigma that society has created and refuse to be treated as second class citizens.
So, in this post I'm going to share 10 things that happen to me when I'm in a particularly bad depressive episode. My depression never goes away completely, but there are times when it gets worse. These are some of the things that happen during the worst episodes (this list is, by no means, exhaustive)
1. I am depressed.
This seems obvious, right? The problem is that many people don't understand what depression really means. Many people think it is the same as feeling sad when the reality is that sadness is just one fragment of depression. One of my biggest pet peeves is when people say "everyone gets depressed". That is not true. Everyone gets sad, but not everyone gets depressed. There are also differences between situational depression and clinical depression, but that topic will need a post of its own.
2. I am exhausted.
I'm pretty much always tired; that comes with the territory when you have major depression. But in particularly bad times, the fatigue gets even worse. It is overwhelming and anxiety-producing. Sometimes, l fear that I am literally going to fall asleep standing up.
3. I can't concentrate.
I have a hard time concentrating on just about anything. My daily Bible devotions, my job, blogging, reading a novel, etc. My mind wanders and usually produces thoughts that fill me with anxiety. I am too busy putting out those fires to have any head space left to concentrate on anything else.
4. I can't run simple errands.
Simple things like going to the store, the pharmacy, the post office, etc. seem impossible. I can't possibly get dressed and go out in public. What if I run into someone I know and I have to talk to them? Am I awake enough to drive? The list of thoughts surrounding going out for any reason is pretty much endless.
5. I cut back on, or stop, engaging in my hobbies.
I find myself reading less, blogging less, and practicing signing less, among other things. Partially because I can't concentrate on them and partially because, even when I do get engaged in them, they don't bring me the joy and satisfaction that they typically do.
6. I cut back on socializing--a lot.
Just like getting out of the house to run errands, the list of reasons my mind can come up with for not leaving the house to socialize is daunting. What if they get mad because you can't pay attention? What if you just start crying for no reason? What if you get sucked in and they you can't leave when you feel like you need to? Do people even want to be around you?
7.I am more irritable.
Things that normally wouldn't bother me make me incredibly anxious or angry. This is not only unpleasant for me, but for all those around me.
8. I don't cook for myself.
Breakfast for dinner happens a lot. Cereal, toaster waffles, etc. Pizza on a wrap that can be put in the toaster oven for 5 minutes is also on the menu frequently. I have zero motivation to cook a full, balanced meal.
9. I clean significantly less.
Just like with cooking, I have no motivation to clean my house. The mess will start to make me anxious, but I still feel I can't possibly get up and clean. And, cleaning and leaving the house on the same day? Forget it!
10. I feel guilty.
I feel guilty because of the burden I put on the people in my life when I'm in a bad depressive episode. I need a lot of help with things that I feel I shouldn't need help with, and that is an unpleasant feeling.
Do you struggle with mental illness? Are you a caregiver of someone with a mental illness? What do you wish people understood about your struggle?
I shared this post in the linky down below. Check it out to find some other blog pages that you might enjoy!