Due to inherent prejudice against mental health problems, I always preferred to talk about my thoughts rather than my feelings.
Having mental health issues is a taboo and the most difficult thing you can admit to yourself. Yet, it’s not that uncommon at all. My coming out about this topic is an attempt to tell you how I deal with mental health problems, what I should do more to enhance my situation and just to let you know you’re not alone in this.
In my opinion, stigma toward people with mental health issues must find its roots in the way we generally perceive people with mental illness: as fools that roam naked in the streets while talking gibberish in the air.
The fact is, mental illness is a condition that most likely will take a professional to diagnose and help you take care of. It’s something that you can live with completely unaware of its existence while only experiencing its most negative effects on your actual health and quality of life. Like a leak in the plumbing of your soul, it may take years before you discover the range of damage caused to you and the folks you care about.
I don’t remember when I developed anxiety. And that worries me even more (see what’s happening here?). I feel like I always had it in me as far back as I can remember.
My anxiety manifests itself in the fact that I am constantly worried, 24/7, about EVERYTHING. Money pressures, family pressures, my past, my errors, my mistakes, my present, my future, all the scenarios, all the eventualities… IT JUST NEVER STOPS.
What’s worse with anxiety is that it is difficult to share your feeling with anybody without: a) spoiling their day, b) aggravating your state if they don’t know how to handle you, c) being judged and tagged as a childish pessimistic that cannot see all the good things in his world.
Let’s make it clear once and for all: mental illness is not a choice. If I’m anxious enough to think the world will end tomorrow, your usual “don’t worry dude”, and “see the bright side” will do nothing but anger me on top of me being panicked.
If you think that anxious people need to get their shit together and stop whining about everything, then CONGRATULATION, you got the point. That’s the condition we’re talking about. And no, it’s not easily manageable, and no, we are not pretending.
Anxiety is a thing, it exists and it’s not easily manageable, even less if you do not acknowledge it first and do the work that needs to be done to treat it, like you would any illness.
Religion helps a lot. It forces you to believe in a better tomorrow and in God’s will to have you endure whatever He needs you to. Isn’t everything written, after all?
But you must consider that there is no perfect believer, and if you think you are, then good for you. But if you have anxiety and your beliefs waver even for a little bit, you’ll be in for the same ride as any anxious person.
Anxiety is the vicious daughter to the most normal of feelings: fear. Everybody fears. Fear is good. You could literally not survive your environment if you lacked fear, it’s what stresses your body enough to produce that awareness of the imminent danger and hopefully avoid it, or at least lessen its damages.
But anxiety takes it to the next level. If fear makes you aware of an imminent danger, anxiety makes you overthink future threats. Threats that might never come… And that awareness grills your mind and makes you constantly worried, which will eventually take a heavy toll on your health, your moral, your social life…
Diminishing mental health issues effect and not considering them as serious as “actual” injuries is as stupid as unscientific. Mental illness will translate into actual harm for you and your surroundings if you take no step to make it better. There’s more to life than only caring about physical damage to your body, too. We are social beings, and mental illness slows or impedes your ability to have social interactions and become some sort of misfit.
My dealing with my mental illness starts by this acknowledgement. “Are those who know equal to those who know not?” (Qur’an)
It makes it easier when you understand that your state of mind and storm of negative thoughts are caused only by a condition that does not let you think straight.
But how do I take it to the next level? It’s simple – it’s just not easy: have some good friends.
I like to have a confident, someone I can have as a confident without the fear of being judged or mocked. Someone who can listen, call BS on me when it is needed, but also… Give me some comfort. Does that make me not only vulnerable but also dependable toward others? Yes, most definitely. And I paid huge premiums at times for this.
But what can I tell you? I’m no professional of mental health management and you should probably not being taking health advise from ill qualified stranger on the internet. I’m telling you what I’m doing. And what I’m doing has never been validated by a professional.
I just did my math and 29 years so far in this live, I still think that being alone is the very worst.
If you have never talked to a professional about your mental illness, then you probably should. It takes humility to sit your ass on a couch and admit, firstly to yourself, “maybe there’s something wrong with me”. Give it a try at least.
But if you do not, because you do not trust mental health professionals, or you think it’s BS for whatever reason… Then at the very least, have a friend.