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7 Struggles Those with Mental Illness Will Understand
Over forty million American lives are affected by mental illness. All of them experiencing similar distress but each story still unique to itself. The battle with mental illness can begin at any age and be dealt with in many ways. Those who do get help often start with a psychologist. I started with a psychologist and then got more help from there. I tried everything: psychologist, psychiatrists, a dietitian, dialectical behavioral therapy group, hospitalization, and day treatment. What more could I do? I felt misunderstood and alone. Thankfully, my hospitalization helped me understand that other teens experienced similar distress to mine. I wasn’t alone and neither are you.
1. Nights are the worst but so are mornings.
After hours of intense and intruding thoughts, you finally drift to sleep. And then, BEEP, BEEP, BEEP. Your alarm clock sounds all too soon. Your exhausted body running on little sleep, adding to your already mentally exhausted being.
I feel deepest at night. My thoughts control me and my impulsive behaviors come to visit. That’s how the cycle goes. The anxiety controls the night, jumping from thought to thought and growing morbid because of the depression. After finally drifting to sleep, morning comes all too soon. I can’t get out of bed. I have absolutely no energy to get out of bed. My mornings filled with nothing but negativity. From that point on, my mind decides that today will suck. My days lead by nothing but depression. It’s a never ending cycle.
2. Feeling the worst after a full day of fake smiling.
I’m exhausted after school. Absolutely exhausted. I know all teenagers are exhausted, but I’m mentally ill and a part of “all teenagers.” I wore a fake smile all day. I’m exhausted. It takes so much energy. I get home after school, drop my backpack to the floor, and crash on the couch, bed or wherever. I put so much energy into the show I put on at school today that I can’t function anymore today. It’s not just the lie of a smile. It’s the greatest effort used to perform what my body tries to tell my I cannot. I have no energy left to worry about homework, tomorrow or really anything. So, I lay down to take a nap. And BAM, here comes the anxiety about what I should be doing, but my body won’t let me do. My exhaustion is never relieved.
3. Remedies making you feel worse.
Be positive. Look for the positives in each day. Be thankful. Pray. Yeah I know these are all great options, but they just don’t help me. I can’t think of anything positive. This inability just causes more frustration and self-loathing. I am a thankful person, just not for the life, I was given. I hate my life, so why’d I be thankful for anything? I couldn’t come up with a list of things I’m thankful for. My mind just thinks of the worst. At this point in my life, these strategies will do nothing but harm as they help center my mind on the negatives.
Some people aren’t religious, but those that are will totally get this. Specifically, in Christianity, you doubt the Lord as for why He would ever make me feel this way? I’m constantly sinning. I mean I’m purposefully causing harm to His creation, but I can’t help it. How’d He let it get this bad? I believe in God, but I have doubt and hurt feelings. Again, at this point in my life, I need to focus solely on His unconditional love, not all His other rules. Nothing ever seems to work like my impulsive behaviors do, but I know they’re causing more harm than good. Maybe one day these will work but not with my you-suck-and-things-will-never-get-better mindset right now.
4. People who downplay your mental illness are the worst.
Taking your own life is selfish. People who self-harm are attention seekers. You really do have control of your life. You’re just exaggerating. Sometimes you’ll start to believe this even though you’ve been told a million times that you have a real problem. Well, here’s another reminder by National Institutes of Health, “...scientists continue to investigate the brains of people who have mental illnesses, they are learning that mental illness is associated with changes in the brain's structure, chemistry, and function and that mental illness does indeed have a biological basis.” You have a real problem. It’s scientifically proven that mental illness is caused by “biological basis.” Those who put negative, attention-seeking labels on mental illness are wrong. Yet, the negative labels still make me overthink my already over thought thoughts, and just overall, feel worse about myself, but my mental illness is real.
5. Medications can make your mental illness worse.
Doctors always seem to love switching your medications around and adding new ones. They’re trying to help you. Really! But sometimes, it doesn’t feel that way.
The first medicine made you have nightmares. The second caused your heart to race. The next made your suicidal thoughts worse. What now? You’re helpless. You feel like you’ve tried everything and nothing works. At this point, you just want everything to end. By everything, I mean your life. You have a bad feeling as your doctor prescribes a new medication but take the pills--as your parents had to unlock the safe and make sure you swallowed them. You were forced to, so you suck it up and swallow the pill and hope this one works.
6. Relationships can be the worst.
I strive for a relationship you’d see in the movies, but even as just a typical teen, relationships suck. You add mental illness to already horrible teen relationships, and you get nothing but an overthought relationship. Early on in the relationship, everyone has doubts, but what about the doubts that lead to impulsive behaviors. That’s not normal or okay. Even later in the relationship, this doubt stays around. You get to the I-love-you stage and your overthinking doubles. I mean, how could you love me when I’m really this horrible person my mental illness helped me conjure up. You come up with unreasonable stories that bring the relationship down. The worries continue and continue. You progress in your relationship and the doubts stay around. Lucky me. All the while, also reminding yourself that you don’t deserve your significant other and are such a burden to them. Having these overwhelming doubts throughout the relationship gets tiring and will typically end in a breakup.
7. Suicidal jokes are the worst.
One friend informs another of a pop quiz, and that friend replies with something about jumping off a bridge. You know it’s a joke, but you feel like your illness isn’t taken seriously because of jokes like these. It’s easy to hide your mental illness which makes it all the easier for people to blindly crack jokes on jokes regarding suicide. Even though we know it’ a joke, it still hurts. We wish nobody would talk like that because it makes us feel nothing but triggered. If I told them to stop, everyone would know my deepest secrets. I feel triggered and remember my great desire to be dead. Those who don’t understand this maybe don’t feel this way, but it makes me feel pretty horrible. Horrible enough that my greatest dream is to be dead. I want to get better, but I can’t control these feelings and thoughts or when or what triggers them; however, without suicidal jokes, maybe we could avoid a triggering episode altogether.