People say mental illnesses are invisible. If they’re invisible, it means they don’t exist. They’re not a bother, they’re not a burden. It’s not really an illness at all, it’s just a glitch in the mind, an anomaly, an error.
So when it turns out that you’re stuck with it for the foreseeable future, you’ve almost resigned yourself to the fact already that you’re no longer going to be taken seriously.
You’re not taken seriously because of the people who write lamenting posts online daily, who can only be “brave” or “an inspiration” so many times before it’s “annoying” or “attention seeking”. You’re not taken seriously because everyone gets anxious, everyone has days when they feel sad and everyone gets nervous. Its normal to feel things, but as soon as you don’t feel them the same as everyone else it is wrong.
It’s wrong to feel so nervous about something that you almost suffocate, your brain is blinded by dread, your lungs and voice cease to work and you’re reduced to nothing.
It’s wrong to not go somewhere or choose to not do something because you’re so drained and unmotivated due to your emotions running you dry, but that is seen as laziness.
I was told once that having a panic attack is like running a marathon, but that doesn’t mean it is taken seriously. You don’t move, in fact you do quite the opposite to running a marathon: being frozen into place and losing the ability to function, why is it the same thing? Why am I left with the same feeling of being worn out as I would after spending hours at the gym?
The feelings get suppressed. You explore outlets, you disconnect, your panic is replaced with rage and then replaced again with sadness and bitterness. You’re confused. Why are your emotions so different and so overwhelming that it’s no longer categorised in society’s neat box? When do your emotions stop being associated with mere loneliness or a bad day or nervousness and start being associated with deterioration and a loss of the will to live? The people you may gain the courage to confide in feel helpless yet concerned, as you’re dragged down an individual path of hell that you struggle to control.
You may go to counselling. You may exercise. You may take medication. No one can see anything to diagnose. They have to trust you. There’s so little trust in this world that you fight against yourself, and you find ways to not be able to justify your feelings. You have gaps in your memory, your eyes are sore from crying, your head is pounding, but you still find excuses. People dumb it down, so you dumb it down. It feels stupid. It feels wrong. They see it as black and white while you are feeling so many different shades in the spectrum.
They may be perceived as invisible to the world, but they are visible to people within this world.