What My Mental Illness Feels Like
In case you haven't read my previous post, on May 14th 2022, I am doing a skydive!
The purpose of this is to face my own fears and anxieties, and raise awareness about mental health. All funds raised are donated to the Mental Health Foundation.
Last week I featured on the front page of the Chinnor Pump, a local magazine that is delivered to all the residents in Chinnor. At the time, I thought it was a great way to promote what I was doing and tell people about my story.
Before it went to print I received a copy of the proof. I was instantly plagued with panic and self doubt. My anxiety went through the roof. I was about to tell everyone in the community where I live about my mental health issues. Everyone would know about my fears and weakness, and the struggles that I face. I was scared that people would think I was stupid and laugh at me. The "what if' questions started to surface, and I went cold with panic and palpitations.
But I didn't back out, and I am so pleased that I refused to listen to those negative voices in my head.
I have been completely blown away by the messages of support I have received, both from people I know, and complete strangers. People have contacted me to tell me about their own mental health battles. I am so pleased I have reached out, if for no other reason than to let people know who are suffering too, that they are not alone.
Because mental illness can be extremely lonely, and hard to spot. Unlike a physical illness where it is easy to see that someone is suffering - mental illness is often invisible. No one can see inside your head or hear your thoughts.
Sometimes I don't even know why I feel the way I do, I just cant explain it.
I have days where I just feel complete and utter despair, and I want to just hide away from everyone. Or I am so anxious and stressed, that my whole body feels like a coiled spring. Where the slightest thing makes me fly off the handle and over react.
I might not tell people how I feel because I am afraid of what they will think of me. That I am crazy or stupid. That I am feeling sorry for myself.
And then the responses when you do tell someone can be really unhelpful, and make you feel worse. Some typical responses I have had are 'I don't know what you are worrying about' or 'what's the matter with you then?' Or 'It cant be that bad, surely?' or 'stop overthinking it' or 'look on the bright side'. The worst one is 'cheer up, it might never happen'.
All these statements can be crippling. And sadly, they often come from the people closest to us.
Helpful things to say would be 'I am here for you if you want to talk' or 'That must be awful for you to feel that way' or 'I can see that you are struggling, and I am here for you'.
So the next time you come across someone is feeling down, just be kind. Just the offer of a friendly ear without judgement can be so helpful. Offer to go for a walk with them, or take them for a coffee.
You don't have to have any answers. Just to know that you are not alone can be a such a lift, and help you find your way back from the darkness,
If any of this resonates with you, I would love to hear from you. I am here for you too.
If you would like to donate to my Just Giving page, the link is below - all funds raised from my skydive go to the Mental Health Foundation. Any donations will be so gratefully received.