It’s difficult to find any reason to be grateful for my mental illness. I could go on all day about shitty things that I have to put up with, but here are some things that people may not understand about the nature of both depression and anorexia. They don’t just make you sad and hungry. They affect almost every aspect of your life.
Isolation. Sometimes my illness makes me want to be on my own. So much so that I could go days without interacting with someone. Sometimes it makes me want to be around people but makes me feel completely disconnected from them at the same time creating an awful sense of loneliness. Sometimes it tells me that the people around me don’t really love me, or that anything they do for me is out of obligation. It’s awful never really feeling like my relationships are solid because the illness can so often distort things for me.
Emotional Outbursts. Over the years, my illness has caused me to suppress many of my emotions. As a lot of us know, when you spend your time suppressing emotions, they eventually come back to bite you in the ass. I’ve had many different outbursts of rage, upset, bitterness, despair, etc. in my relatively short life. I’ve had many cases where I uncontrollably lashed out in a way that would be quite unusual for me.
Restlessness. I can find it so hard to feel at peace. When I’m in the height of a depression, I’m unhappy no matter what I do. It’s really difficult when I can’t soothe myself because I feel like rest is something that I’ll never get back. It also makes me very weary in my activities and interactions.
Interference with Work. My work is so, so important to me. Being productive was how I coped for a long time. So at times when my illness gets so bad that I’m unable to concentrate on doing work tasks, it makes me feel quite lost. It may be unhealthy, but work is such a big part of me by know that I feel I’m almost nothing without it.
Sleep and Rest. I’ve never been a very good sleeper but it’s always been quite important to me. I’m not one of those people who can get by very well without my eight hours. I sometimes go through bouts of awful insomnia which just can’t seem to be helped. When you have a mood disorder, it’s so vital to have enough sleep so you can manage your emotions better. This makes my insomnia even more difficult to cope with.
Falling behind on things. As well as interfering with my work, this illness can make things like phone calls and appointments seem extremely intimidating. Sometimes I feel unable to tick things off my to-do list that really need to get done. I’ve had really scary times where I’ve had a huge list of intimidating things to get through before I could even focus on my recovery.
Uncertainty. It’s awful when you’re going through a good period to know that your illness can return at any time. It’s also awful when you’re going through a particularly bad period to wonder how long it will last for. The uncertainty for me is probably the hardest thing to deal with.
Read about incidents of disrespect that I encountered growing up here.
Watch a video on my writing process below: