IBD, mental health

World Mental Health Day: What Does Mental Illness Look Like?

It’s been a while since I wrote a blog post and forced my opinions on the world. Since graduating (yes, I did it!), I’ve been bumbling along in the so-called adult world; and have found it difficult to find time to write between working and napping! I’m in a job which I am currently loving, and my health has been somewhat a-ok which is more than I can hope for. By my health I am referring to both my physical and mental health, as both have suffered with illness over the past couple of years. I have spoke a lot about both on this blog – but it wasn’t what I set out to do. As it is Mental Health Awareness Day, I wanted to write a blog post about my own mental health. I want to raise awareness, and put a face to an invisible illness. What does mental illness look like?

When I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Colitis in March last year, I was overwhelmed. I was relieved to receive a diagnosis, a name to what had been going on with my body for months, for which I had no explanation. However, I was also confused, and in denial about how poorly I was for a while. After numerous hours spent in the bathroom, days spent in bed, weight gain from steroids, frustration and sadness over how much fun and life I was missing out on, and numerous drugs failing me; it all started to take toll on my mental health. I didn’t want to go out for fear of needing the toilet, and fear of having an accident. The more anxious I became about going out, the more I avoided it, and the more I worried that my friends thought differently of me. I hated my body for the way it looked – scarred from abscesses, stretch marks from steroids, and fat from weight gain. I hated my body for it’s inability to function normally, and let me live my life. I felt disgusting and diseased. In December 2015 I was diagnosed with moderate depression and severe anxiety. Despite all those thoughts and feelings – to me, I was still Anna. Anna who was always the one smiling and laughing, always the first to suggest plans, and Anna who never in a million years would be depressed. I would like to think that I am open minded, caring and compassionate, and non-judgemental. However, I still thought that depression and anxiety wouldn’t affect somebody ‘like me’. And for that reason, we need to speak out, raise awareness and remove the stigma from mental illness. The brain is an organ, that can suffer bouts of illness like any other – so why are people who suffer with mental illness either not believed, not cared about or considered bat shit crazy?!

Life is hard, so it’s hardly surprising that 1 in 4 people suffer with mental health problems at some point in their life. Mental illness doesn’t discriminate – just like other illnesses. Count your blessings everyday, and if you’re struggling, don’t be ashamed to ask for help. Depression and anxiety are different for everybody (as are other mental health problems). For me, suffering with depression and anxiety is like a climbing wall, and sometimes the stepping stones disappear from under my feet, and I fall back down. I am currently out of the dark hole, but I am still looking for new stepping stones and climbing everyday. In my case, my chronic illness and mental illness came hand in hand. I know that my chronic illness has no cure, and the future is never certain. Although that can be scary, it has made me appreciate everyday so much more than before. I know that there will be a time when Crohn’s disease well and truly bites me on the ass again (mind the pun), but I am confident knowing that the help is there to prevent me from falling off my climbing wall and back into the dark hole.

I hope that you are brave enough to ask for help if you ever need it. You are never alone in your struggles with mental health. Remember to be kind, as you never know the battles people are fighting.

Love to you all and happiness on mental health awareness day,

Anna

xxxxx

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4 thoughts on “World Mental Health Day: What Does Mental Illness Look Like?”

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