What I Wish My Loved Ones Knew About My Mental Health
I wish my loved ones knew certain things about my mental health. But explaining mental illness to someone who doesn’t have it can feel impossible, especially when it comes to family members and close friends. We want our loved ones to support us without judgement, but it doesn’t always work out that way. Here's what I wish my loved ones knew about my mental health.
I haven’t been entirely truthful about my mental illness with those closest to me because some of them have judged and chastised me in the past. But I’m done hiding. If you love me, there are some things you need to know about my mental health.
Top 5 Things I Wish My Loved Ones Knew
1. Mental Health Doesn’t Always Improve with Age
Too often, we dismiss signs of mental illness as side effects of adolescence. I was guilty of this for several years. Many of the people in my life assume I’m better now because I’m older and more responsible. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
Mental Illness Isn’t Something I’ll 'Outgrow'
When I was a teenager, I tried to convince myself that my undiagnosed mental illness was just teenage angst. I told myself it would go away when I moved out and started university. I was wrong, and my mental health only got worse.
Now, with two degrees under my belt, I still struggle with the same issues I did when I was a teenager. As I’ve grown older I’ve found that my mental health has also grown worse in many ways, especially since I have more responsibilities now.
2. Living Situation Improvements Do Not Cure Mental Illness
Teens have far less control over their living situation than adults. For teens with mental illness, the environment in which they live may contribute significantly to their mental illness. This was true for me. I was lucky, though – I got out of that environment and I now live the life I used to pray for.
But I still have bad days, and sometimes the people in my life make me feel guilty for that because I’ve come so far. I’ve been told I have nothing to be depressed about and that I should be happy because I’m not where I used to be. Just remember, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.
3. Appearances Lie When Living with Mental Illness
Those of us with mental illness know all too well what it feels like to wear the mask. You know the one I mean – the fake smile, the forced laugh, the engaged expression. Here’s what I want my loved ones to know about my mental health and how it feels to wear that mask every single day.
It’s Not as Easy as I Make It Look on Social Media
One of the pitfalls of social media is the pressure to share only the best sides of ourselves. Since I live several thousand miles away from my family, all they see of me are the selfies I post. And let’s face it – none of us post bad or ugly selfies.
My family and friends dote on how healthy and glowing I look, but they only see me on the days when I have a healthy glow. They don’t see me on the gray days when I can’t bring myself to get out of bed.
4. Being Open About My Mental Illness Makes Me Feel Vulnerable
I wish my loved ones knew writing about my mental illness isn’t exactly fun. When I tell my friends I write about mental health, some of them give me strange looks. I can almost see them making assumptions about me, especially if they’ve only just met me. I worry about how they’ll react if I’m even slightly emotional in front of them.
5. I Can Cope With--but Not Control--My Mental Illness Symptoms
The most important thing I want my family and friends to know about my mental illness is that I can’t control it, even though I'm working hard to learn new coping tactics.
People have accused me of having a borderline personality disorder (BPD) episode on purpose to ruin someone’s good time. I would never – could never – fake a BPD episode or anxiety attack, or play on my mental illness to get out of a situation. If it was as easy as turning off a switch, I wouldn’t even need to write this post.
Maintaining a healthy relationship with someone who has a mental illness isn’t always easy. Just remember that we’re human, and we’re doing the best we can with what we’ve got, even if it doesn’t always seem that way to you.
Lee-Smith, M. (2017, May 31). What I Wish My Loved Ones Knew About My Mental Health, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, May 27 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/mentalhealthforthedigitalgeneration/2017/05/what-i-wish-my-loved-ones-knew-about-my-mental-health