Because what I struggle with can’t be seen doesn’t mean I am not having a hard time. Every day I wake up and I have to work to get to a level where I can function. There is so much that I hide because it feels easier than trying to explain the chaos that’s going on inside me. It takes every fibre of my being to cope at a minimal level, and when I have to hide it the effort is doubled.
I use a number of ways to cope, most of which are destructive and unfortunately hurt more than they help in the long run but in the moment they help. They take the pain, confusion and sadness away. They allow me to actually get out of bed and even though I may only get to the minimum level of functioning at least I am still functioning.
The days where I don’t reach the minimum level are torturous and lead me to even more destructive ways to cope. If I am lucky they can numb me out enough to try and get back to the minimum but it doesn’t always work out that way.
I hate all that comes with the struggle and who I am because it feels like I am broken. And I feel like I am totally alone and unworthy.
The struggle with the disorder is only the beginning. What follows are multiple concurring disorders that leave me feeling paralyzed, debilitating thoughts, overwhelming emotions, and finally the destructive coping mechanisms that allow me to basically function but also have the added bonus of screwing me even further.
Just because it can’t be seen in the way I walk or heard in the way I talk doesn’t mean there isn’t something wrong. I know it can look like all is well because a lot of the time I can hide it so in some ways I understand why someone might think everything is good. But when the chaos becomes too much and I am not able to hide it anymore, or not as well as before, doesn’t mean the struggle isn’t real.
I can’t explain why I feel the way I do or why I think the way I do unless I explain my disorder, all the concurring issues, and my whole history, and that would just take way too long, and even then it may come out wrong.
Struggling with a disorder can be all-consuming. It can take every bit of energy I have and it can leave me drained in every way possible.
I can’t help but feel like if it were physical it might be easier. People wouldn’t question what I’m struggling with, or even if I’m struggling. There wouldn’t be any hesitancy in giving me care or compassion or patience or help. It would be understood that I need to heal and that I need help. It would be easier to ask for help too because I could just point to what was broken or bleeding and people would just know and help. If it were physical it would be understood why I need time and why I can’t function. It would be out in the open as to why I’m needing care and there would be no criticism, no judgement, no assumptions and no misunderstanding. She’s hurt she needs help.
I know that it seems backwards to think this but I can’t dump out my brain and I can’t open my body and show you what’s consuming me and where I hurt. Because where and how I hurt can’t be seen in cuts or bruises. When I feel broken I can’t take an x-ray and prove it to you. When I feel the pain coursing through me I can’t have my blood drawn and show it to you. When I feel empty I can’t go for an MRI and show you that there’s nothing inside. Believe me I wish I could. I wish I could show you where it hurts and that bandages would help. I wish I could empty my head. I have hoped for that on many occasions. Although probably for different reasons.
Mental health issues are serious and should always be treated as such. They are complex and often debilitating issues that require just as much care and compassion as any physical difficulty would. I’m not trying to compare physical issues to mental health issues because they can’t be compared. They each have their own struggles, difficulties, and methods of treatments. What I am saying is that just because mental health issues can’t be seen the way a number of physical issues might doesn’t mean it needs any less care.
As anyone who has struggled with mental health issues probably has experienced themselves at some point, the disapproving, disbelieving looks, and the discouraging words from family, friends, and even health care professionals; that it’s all “in their head”, or that they should just “suck it up”, and that everyone has problems, what makes them so special? This is just a tiny sample of the comments that have been made to me, and I’ve also had much worse. My fellow strugglers I’m sure can add their own to mine.
The common thread for all of us is that we were either disregarded or disbelieved, or both, and often left alone, and sent on our way with no help. This is an all too common occurrence for many who suffer from serious disorders and mental health issues. What we struggle with is hard enough without having people disbelieve us, or disregard us. As more and more people speak out the stigma is starting to be challenged, and more and more people are realizing that anyone struggling with mental health issues needs care and compassion, but we still have a long way to go, and with every voice that speaks up and out we get closer and closer.
Maybe one day there will be a test that can show you what’s really going on inside of me, but until then you’ll just have to take my word for it.