I can not count the number of times that people have been surprised when I tell them about my past or my struggles with my mental health. Through all I’ve endured starting in early childhood, the world has given me every reason to be a hostile human-being, yet I’m so positive and optimistic. After getting to know me, people are surprised to learn that three years ago, I was struggling with crippling depression and anxiety. What surprises them even more, is that I’m still fighting in my mind today. I put on a pretty convincing mask, but mental illness isn’t something that gets cured, I’ve just learned to manage it.
Society says that I don’t fit the mold of someone who struggles with a mental illness. That is the degrading and damaging effect of the stigma surrounding mental health because mental health is not a one size fits all. So this is how you can better understand someone (or even yourself) who doesn’t struggle in a typical way.
First of all, the one thing that I want everybody to know is that depression is more than sadness, anxiety is more than being nervous, bipolar is more than mood swings, and so on. There is more to someone than what appears on the surface. The first way to start making a difference is merely being kind to everyone because no one knows what someone else is dealing with. Kindness goes a long way, but it is also essential to learn the facts of the mental illnesses and try to steer away from stigmatizing language.
The best way I can help you understand this on a deeper level is to attempt to take you into my brain and tell you the things that I wish you knew when I’m acting off.
1.) Productivity distracts my brain
One of the biggest reasons why people are alarmed to learn about my struggles with anxiety is because I’m always productive, and I’m usually calm about making sure everything gets done. The best way that I can explain this is because I use productivity to distract my brain from the worries in my life. However, when I’m alone, things are different. Since I run on adrenaline, I experience crashes, which lead to periods of low-functioning.
2.) You most likely will never see me have an anxiety attack
Most of my anxiety attacks occur in private if you see me having an anxiety attack, you should know that I was at a breaking point. I will do everything in my power to get myself out of a situation that is causing a trigger, and feeling stuck in a situation only makes me more anxious.
3.) Me being quiet in an environment where I’m comfortable is a sign that I’m holding back an anxiety attack
I am a rather quiet personality when I’m uncomfortable, but I have a very upbeat and bubbly personality when I am comfortable. However, if, for whatever reason, I’m holding back an anxiety attack, I will shut down and not say anything. People usually realize that something is off, but I won’t tell them what is wrong because I can’t put it into words, and if I try to, I fear I will trigger the anxiety attack that I’m trying to hold back. Those are the moments I want to slip away because I’m holding it back, so I don’t make a scene.
4.) I laugh a lot to keep myself from overthinking
I am the type of person to have a lot of energy, and I enjoy laughter because it keeps things simple. It’s a strength and a weakness at the same time; I have a hard time taking things seriously sometimes, but I also always lighten the mood. I can be annoyingly happy at times but also spread contagious positive energy. Anxiety makes you think of the worst-case scenario, so to stop my mind from believing it, I overemphasize the positive side.
I try to put forward a perfect exterior; I am a perfectionist and always will be. I care about what everyone thinks about me, so I won’t go out of my way to tell you my struggles. I put on a convincing mask so many people would never guess the things I’ve gone through. I will never let the world turn me into a hostile person; I will always be the person who radiates positivity.