“Mental illness is not something we as people like to talk about and despite what many people think living with mental illness doesn’t mean you’re constantly being reckless, constantly making stupid decisions and sitting in a padded room, wearing a straitjacket and being dosed up to the eyeballs.
In reality, it means you live every day using all your strength to keep the suicidal thoughts at bay whilst you work, keep up with your chores, look after your family and hold down a functioning relationship.
It’s putting on makeup, putting on a brave face, doing everything you can to simply exist and having people assume you are mentally stable because you look fine. You do such a good job of this that people actually tell you that they envy you but I can guarantee that if you knew what was going on under the surface that would not be the case.
It’s making sure you’re not locking yourself away and avoiding social interaction. It’s keeping in contact with the outside world while being exhausted, anxious and paranoid that people’s lives would be so much better if they didn’t have to deal with you. It is also about making sure you have time alone to recharge the batteries but not too much alone time that you feel isolated from the world and push yourself away from everyone.
It’s having people admire and enjoy the work that you even though you constantly feel like a disappointment.
It’s feeling completely alone even when you are surrounded by those you love and who love you.
Mental illness is not straight forward. I live with this every day. Anyone that walks past me on the street, or people who tell me “you look like you’ve been doing well lately” don’t understand the half of what happens in my brain. I try to stay as positive as I can, live by the law of attraction and only ever compete with my previous self to improve. I focus on the prevention methods to reduce the recovery times.
This is the reality of mental illness. It’s often the person you would least expect if you had to pick them out of the lineup. They could have the biggest smile, the brightest eyes and they could still be battling a whole war every second.”
I had been trying to put into words exactly how living with a mental illness feels when I saw a friends post on Facebook that sums it up better than I ever could. Thank you for this amazing description Elspeth Van Der Hole, of course I have changed a little to fit my life.
Oh and guys, Elspeth is an absolutely kick ass photographer that I was really lucky to get to work with when I was a make up artist so if you haven’t already you should definitely go check out her work 🙂
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