Health

There is a flip side to mental health awareness, and I don’t know how to deal with it

I’m lucky to have been born in an era where mental illness is being pulled out of hiding and given the attention it deserves. Although I know technology is the magna causa for this century’s mental illness epidemic, it has also enabled the sufferers among us to gain self-awareness and seek help and support.

I fall on the depressive spectrum — I have, off and on, for several years — and have started suffering from anxiety and panic attacks more recently.

I suffered from mental illness long before I realised I did. Looking back, I see a childhood rife with grief-riddled poetry that I hid aggressively from family and friends.

I come from a normal, slightly orthodox middle-class family and had a normal, if a little dysfunctional, upbringing. I was a brilliant student, most often described as ‘happy-go-lucky’. But I was fat-shamed from a young age and also faced restrictions families like mine place on dating, going out, sleepovers, wearing clothes of your choice — in general any expression of my identity that was less than ‘ideal’. It seemed like a necessary part of growing up, and I imagined everyone around me was suffering equally.

What I couldn’t imagine at the time was how much my fairly ‘normal’ upbringing would continue to shape my life as an adult.

In my early twenties, I stepped out of home to receive a bitter shock: I was an under-confident, closed individual with poor self-worth despite a lot of talent and opportunity.

It was only after years of being grief-stricken, low on motivation and energy, and persistently hopeless that I began to suspect I suffered from mental illness.

Unable to understand or vocalise my condition, I went away to university hoping the new environment will help. To an extent, it did, because it was there that I began seeing signs of mental illness first-hand and developed a vocabulary to express and understand it in. I still didn’t have the courage to admit my own condition. So I suffered in silence while helping everyone else deal with theirs.

Eventually the day came when I knew I needed help, and I sought it.


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Thanks !

Thanks for sharing this, you are awesome !

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