When we’re young we get told life isn’t fair and as we grow older we realise this. there are things that we can’t control that we wish we could, illness is one of those things. You can help with some to prevent it or sooth symptoms but there are others you can’t, and mental illness is the same. I’ve learnt a lot in the last few years about myself and the illness that I have. I’ve thrown myself into research to learn more about the science behind it, recent research and theories to try and have a handle on something that I didn’t choose to have.
Ask a group of people with a mental illness and none of them would have asked to have it. It interrupts life and sometimes for some of our friends it takes theirs. I’ve thought a lot recently about this, about health. As much as I try and treat my body right with certain foods and getting fit and healthy I can’t do much for my mind. Sure I can surround myself with positive people and listed to my mind and my body but other than that if I’m having a low there are a lot of times where I have to wait it out, live with my depression or the anxiety attacks I sometimes have.
That said, ask that same group of people if they could flick a switch and it would have never happened and it will never happen again, it would be a much harder decision. Don’t get me wrong, in the last 6-7 years my illness has made my life hell and has taken things away from me, but it’s also given me things too. I’ve had depression since I was a teenager, so I don’t know what it’s like being an adult without it so sometimes I wonder, would I be as empathetic if I’d never had it, would I be as passionate and would I be so grateful for the little things in life. I don’t know. But I do know, because of my illness, that I have the best possible people in my life who pick me up and who know when I need the day or when I need a kick up the ass. Through lows and highs I’ve got great writing ideas or lyrics I wouldn’t have necessarily thought of, I’ve connected with amazing people and can be blissfully happy by the tiniest of things like waking up in the morning and feeling ok and other things too.
Why am I writing this? For a few reasons, one because I didn’t feel so great in my mentoring session today and we talked for a long time about depression, how I feel about it and the fears I have. There is fear, fear that I might go back to a dark place like I was at school but my mentor pointed something out to me. At 15/16 I had no experience, I hadn’t been diagnosed and I didn’t have a good medical team. I didn’t have a lot of information or ways to recognise my feelings and try and combat them before they got too bad, I had unhealthy ways of dealing with my feelings. In the last 3 years especially I’ve done well to get as far as I have and while the fear won’t go away, if I take note I’m in a better position than I was when I was 15/16. I have a voice and I have you guys too, who can cheer me up on Twitter to no end.
Taken on my 15th birthday, I was happy here and hadn’t really experienced bad depression yet.
People may call me names like a nut job, loon, or make snide remarks about being unstable and therefore unable. I’m getting to the point where I’m starting not to care and their hate makes me more driven. This illness may never go away but that doesn’t mean people will always be ignorant, which is why I write things like this to educate, to explain. I’ve written before about my story (the short version, maybe one day I’ll write it in detail) before and I’ve always been open on here about my highs and lows. I think it’s important to remember, for anyone who has an illness, that this is just a part of you, it does not define you.
So no, life might not be fair and there are thousands of people in the world who live with my illness every day, but we aren’t alone. We might feel like it when depression grabs us and drags us under for a few days but at the end of the day there are so many others out there who are at all different stages of their illness and recovery. Don’t be scared of being you.