What Living With a Mental Illness Really Looks Like

From daily symptoms that don’t seem to dissipate, to the effect on our self-esteem — mental health disorders can take a toll.

Source: Kevin Bosc on Unsplash

For some people, mental illness or mental health, in general, is a somewhat taboo topic. How mental health was spoken about throughout our childhood is crucial in our attitude and beliefs around mental health presently.

Sometimes the culture you grow up in does not tolerate mental health talk. Either emotion wasn’t allowed to be expressed or heavily frowned upon.

Mental health can sometimes be viewed negatively — as if this is a topic we shouldn’t talk about. But why is that? Why shouldn’t we talk about mental health?

I specifically grew up with a family that didn’t discuss our mental health. If you have any mental health issues, you are‘ lazy.’ Frequently, the word ‘crazy’ would be thrown around to tell everyone that mental health was a joke.

I want to take this time to really explore what mental illness can look like on a day-to-day basis. We can’t change how we were brought up or the lessons we’ve learned throughout our life — but we can always educate ourselves.

Daily symptoms

Symptoms of mental illness aren’t experienced in a regular schedule — it’s sporadic and maybe even constant at times. It is so difficult to really pin down what anyone might feel.

Think of a mental health disorder as a chronic pain disorder. Symptoms flare up on their own, and they have little rhyme or reason at times.

Reading through the lists of disorders, like ADHD, and depression can be beneficial in understanding the specific struggles associated with each disorder.

I live with anxiety daily. It is tough to try and avoid my anxiety. Some days it is just there, and there isn’t anything I can do about it. It can be challenging to get up and move with constant anxiety, leaving you stagnant and miserable. And on my good days, I try to do as much as I can — I worry when my next good day maybe.

Overall, daily symptoms will look different for every person based on their own disorder, unique life circumstances, and even their personality.

Possibility of no recovery

It’s important to understand that treatment does not always lead to recovery. Recovery is when someone is fully recovered from their disorder. Treatment will help you relieve your symptoms, but recovery does not always happen.

Recovery can take years of treatment that some people don’t have the strength, money, or hope to complete.

Sometimes, there is no chance of full recovery with mental illness, specifically bipolar, personality disorders, or schizophrenia. Sometimes anxiety and depression can be in remission–even OCD too, but that can be hard to achieve.

It’s important to understand that recovery or improvement of symptoms cannot come from seeing a doctor alone. Change has to occur in nearly every part of your life. That change can be challenging for some. Letting go of maladaptive coping mechanisms and building healthy habits can be life-changing for some.

But this does not mean that your life is hopeless. People who live with mental health issues can still live full, happy lives — we just have to cope in unique ways and take more time for our mental health.

Low self-esteem

Anxiety and maybe even paranoia daily can wear away at your self-esteem through all the ups and downs. My self-esteem was struggling because I felt like I was failing. I had so much anxiety and despair in my heart that I felt lost in the path I was taking.

I was worried that people could see how anxious I was. That I was one second away from crying and losing my mind. So I preferred to stay away from other people. If I don’t have people around me, I can’t get hurt.

With this poor self-image and low self-esteem, it is difficult to socialize. I felt a massive struggle trying to relate to my peers — especially as a teenager.

Living every day with a mental illness can be a challenge. In times of struggle, it’s hard to stay with our heads above water. But know a mental health diagnosis, is not a death sentence — nor a mark on who you are as a person.

As originally posted on Medium and NewsBreak