mental health

Mental Health Isn’t Always Shocking

Earlier this year I contributed to this BBC article. I was supposed to be on the radio too, but instead, they used another lovely lady who to me, her struggle appeared a lot worse. Now, I know that mental health isn’t a competition and I know how the media works, so my anxiety story didn’t and probably never will make very compelling radio and that’s fine. However, the comments on Newsbeat’s’ Facebook when they posted the article were well, very disheartening.

I’ve talked about before in this post, how sometimes I feel like I don’t have a ‘place’ as a mental health blogger as I’m pretty much recovered (apart from the occasional blip) (see constantly trying to justify myself). It was the comments on Facebook that sparked this.

Maybe she should just try not taking the medication, doesn’t sound like she needs it. 

Sounds like she’s wasting valuable NHS time through medication, she should just try being happier. 

After comments like this started to be posted and other comments from people close to me about my decision to use medication, I started to regret agreeing to contribute to the article.

Now let me tell you, mental health isn’t always shocking.

I had a wonderful up bringing, a loving family, a holiday every year, access to a good education, there is nothing that I could ever pin point as the demise of my mental health. Yes, high school was stressful and I was bullied for a period of time, but I was anxious before that. There was no major traumatic event during childhood, nothing that would ever shock anyone, but I have still suffered from poor mental health.

My anxiety has never been particularly shocking either. I’ve had panic attacks and physical symptoms that including throwing up, the other end and the shakes but it never went a lot further. I’ve never self-harmed, nor attempted suicide. It doesn’t mean I never had thoughts, but to many, my anxiety would just look like an ‘overly emotional’ girl, something my anxiety for years was passed off as.

The most ‘shocking’ part of my mental health struggle was the period of time where I didn’t really leave the house due to separation anxiety. However, I went to school and worked part time as I knew those places. I managed. Just not in certain situations.

I think this is why I’ve struggled to have it taken seriously for a lot of my life, or I’m told to just try and cheer up. The panic attacks I’ve had in the last year have been about things some may view as dramatic. The one about an assignment I couldn’t quite get right, or the one because I was in a part of town I’d never been in before. The attacks last twenty minutes or so, I calm down, I go to sleep and I wake up the next day and continue on with my life. It’s not shocking, never has been and never will be.

In addition to this, I saw somebody state on Twitter that CBT doesn’t work on more ‘serious’ mental illness. This riled me up as what makes a mental illness more ‘serious’?. There was a time my separation anxiety was extremely serious. I couldn’t leave the house or my mother’s side without thinking she would die. CBT re-trained my brain and the thoughts I had around separation and now, for the most part, I cope. CBT may not work for everybody and their individual needs but it should never be suggested it doesn’t work unless the mental illness isn’t serious.

My mental health not being ‘shocking’ or ‘serious’, however, doesn’t mean I don’t need medication, or that I was ever just going to magically get better. My mental health for a large part of my life defined me, the panic attacks make occasional days hard and just because I don’t have a shocking story to tell doesn’t mean I’m making it up, or undeserving of the help I deserved.

Mental health isn’t always shocking, sometimes people are on medication simply for the fact they struggle with being away from home. I’m not being ‘dramatic’ or ‘overly emotional’. I have suffered from mental illness and continue to, whether Karen the Facebook keyboard warrior deems me to be or not.

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9 thoughts on “Mental Health Isn’t Always Shocking

  1. Urgh! Can’t believe you got such ignorant comments after your amazing work speaking out about your mental health 😩

    My situation is pretty similar to yours in that anxiety, agoraphobia and panic attacks ruled my life for a long time until CBT and medication (which I still take too). From the outside my mental health has probably never looked dramatic either and I was always really good at hiding it from people!

    Only us and those close to us know how much of an impact our mental health conditions have had on us so don’t worry about bloody Karen from Facebook! 😆

    Keep looking after yourself (you’re not a waste of resources for the NHS!!!) and keep up what you’re doing 👍🏻😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Honestly Rob I even had comments from family
      Members about the article that weren’t positive and I was like 😫😫
      It’s such a weird one as talking out breaks down stigmas but people only want to hear it when your situation fits with their ideas of what mental health ‘looks like’.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Really enjoyed reading this, thanks for sharing! I often feel that I have to justify why I struggle with my mental health too in terms of having a “normal” upbringing and/or no traumatic event to bring anything on. You’re completely right, it doesn’t always have to be shocking.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for commenting. Before starting mental health blogging I lived in my own world of not feeling the need to justify myself! It’s hard to carry on advocating when other people are so annoying 😅

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sorry to hear that, that’s not nice. I find it really weird why people can believe that there are these two groups of those who can advocate and those who can’t… Surely ALL awareness being raised around mental health is beneficial and those who might have more of an insight, people like you who have experienced first hand, are incredibly valuable! Keep it up 🙂

        Like

  3. I admire you so much for writing this. Mental illness is not a game, and you certainly cannot judge another person’s journey. I’m really sorry to hear you received such ignorant comments. Your problems have been just as valid as anyone else’s, and i’m glad you are contributing greatly to remove stigma around mental health x

    Steph / rosemelodies.blogspot.com

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Yes, all the yes! I feel exactly the same way, plus had very similar experiences! I even just vlogged myself reading your post haha so you may see me have a rant about some of the comments you’ve received.

    Those comments just prove how important it is for people with varying degrees of mental illness to speak out and tell their stories. The more serious or shocking cases are the ones that are always reported and so that’s how the general public is learning about these issues and it’s just false! It’s giving a false representation of mental health as a whole!

    Keep doing what you’re doing, you’re making a huge difference in bringing awareness to mental health!

    Cat x
    http://bodywithmind.co.uk/

    Like

    1. Yes! The public need more awareness of mental health as a whole spectrum from high functioning to the more ‘serious’ cases of inpatient etc. Thanks for such a lovely comment and tweet/link me to the vlog when it goes live I’d love to watch xx

      Like

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