4 Lies People Believe About The Mental Health Community

It’s not a surprise that there is a stigma against mental health, but it shouldn’t be a battle that mental health patients should have to face.

I’ve battled with depression in my past, and not but a year later after I was diagnosed with a rare disease, I suffer from anxiety. Lots of things have probably attributed to my mental health like emotional abuse, my ex-relationship, toxic family, and things that have been hard for me to overcome.

I, along with millions of others in the mental health community are tired. We’re tired of the bias, the lies that people believe about our mental illness, and the endless reasons we must make up for missing work or a gathering because most people won’t take our mental health seriously.

I believe that in shedding some light on those lies below, it will help de-stigmatize mental illness and open us up for more unashamed conversation.

1. If we share our reality, we are in some way seeking attention.

Whoever has said that someone is seeking attention because they’re struggling mentally lacks a string of empathy—empathy that could mean a matter of life or death for someone. Our reality is real—and our feelings are valid.

Any kind of attention we’re seeking is because we’re seeking help. And we certainly do not have to struggle in silence. We know that just because no one else can heal or do our inner work for us, it doesn’t mean we have to do it alone—therefore we vulnerably share what we’re going through.

2. When we make some improvement, we were faking our mental struggle all along.

Don’t forget that at one point, our only relief was sleep. Our struggle was real, is real, and faking a mental illness is of no benefit to us or anyone else’s life. Making improvements in our mental illness is beautiful progress, and it is not to be misinterpreted as faking a mental illness. Some of us have fought for our lives while battling our inner demons. Some of us, like myself, had suicidal thoughts in our darkest hour and have self-harmed multiple times. So when we make an improvement, we’ve realized our life is worth living and you can’t fake that kind of reality. These things are as real as anything else in the world and the progress matters to us. Every time you think someone is faking their mental illness, you’re a part of the problem, not the solution.

3. If we stay in our depression, anxiety, or other mental health issue, we’re not trying hard enough.

No one wants to suffer from a mental illness, but it’s okay to make mistakes. It’s okay to have bad days and be less than perfect. It’s okay to do what’s best for our mental health even when that looks like we’re not trying to others. Everyone’s effort looks different. For some, it’s going outside and feeling the sunburn their face and for others, it’s getting out of bed for the first time in a week and drinking a cup of coffee.

And for some, it’s merely an effort to stay alive.

We’re trying. Trying is not giving up—and that’s all that matters.

4. If we keep the struggle to ourselves, then we’re not really suffering.

Just because we keep our feelings to ourselves, doesn’t mean we wish to heal alone in our mental illness. It’s not an easy thing to open up about what we’re going through because we feel we’ll be rejected.

Mental illness is not easily seen. We don’t have a runny nose, fever, or a rash where someone will easily run to us with a warm towel or Tylenol. We long to be able to express something we can’t explain, and we ache for help.

People with a mental illness know what it means to feel alone no matter how much support we may actually have. We struggle with accepting help from those that love us because we don’t want to be a burden.

Mental health will always matter. Whether it affects your brain, your arm, or your heart, it’s still an illness that needs to be addressed with just as much care.

Everyone is going through something and everybody has had something they’ve had to overcome.

There is hope, even when our minds tell us there isn’t. The fact that we’re still making it to work, caring for our families, being there for our friends, while still battling inexpressible pain is strength, not a weakness.

People will believe what they want to believe about the mentally ill—no one can really change that.

But we can let people know how truly precious they are. We can be a part of the change for good and give people a reason to have hope again.

Because hope should never be lost.

Why Chronic-Illness Feels Lonely Despite That You’re Not The Only One Battling It

According to the National Health Council, there are over 150 million Americans living with chronic diseases with around 80 million having multiple conditions.

But despite the fact that there are many people living with a chronic illness, it feels very lonely.

I’ve suffered from chronic-pain since 2013 when I was diagnosed with lupus. And in 2019, I was diagnosed with Neuromyelitis Optica (NMO), a rare disease that affects my central nervous system. They used to call it the sister to MS, but it’s entirely its own entity now. I know chronic-pain well, and I don’t wish it on my worst enemy.

Before I started bi-weekly treatment for my rare disease, I often felt elderly but without the benefit of looking back on my younger years with pride. Instead, I would watch with envy the girl running on the sidewalk with all her strength and might. I would watch the young make memories they’d never forget, praying that I would get my chance again.

Chronic-illness is lonely.

It’s not that we don’t realize how many people are also suffering from an illness, it’s that in the perimeters of our daily lives, our friends and family, or our work places—we don’t seem to come across someone that relates with us—and so, the people closest to us don’t understand what we’re going through, making us feel even lonelier.

We can try to explain the emotional and physical pain of a horrible diagnosis that changes our lives forever, but we usually say we’re fine time and time again, because no one will truly understand.

Chronic-illness feels like you’re swimming upstream the moment you wake up. It feels like you’re sinking down in an ocean of suffering during the day only to swim upstream all over again come the morning. But to tell that to someone that doesn’t fight a disease daily also feels like an uphill battle. It becomes a matter if people believe our pain even when they can’t see it—while we are desperately and hesitantly walking on eggshells within our own body just to push to another day. And some people don’t care.

So we find comfort in our online communities with people that get it—with people that are fighting the exact same battle we are. Whether we’re fighting a rare disease or a common disease—we find support from people we’ve never met and they feel like family.

What I’ve learned in battling chronic-illness for eight years now is that some people are scared of understanding things they’re afraid of.

They’re scared to fully comprehend the pain you’re going through because deep down, knowing and understanding every inch of your pain and the fact that you’re suffering as much as you are is hard for them—because they love you. Though they will never understand your physical pain, it also takes a mental toll on their heart.

I remember when my spouse first heard of my diagnosis. It was a hard day for both of us. It was hard for me to see tears in his eyes when he was reading about my disease.

So, a lot of the time we hide our pain because we don’t want our loved ones to worry. But if they care and want to be there for us, we must open ourselves to the idea that maybe we don’t have to feel so alone after all.

My disease had full intention of seeing that I would lose all hope in my despair and never be able to jog with my full strength again, or get out of a hot bath on my own, or get out of bed without burning feet, or never see a day where I wasn’t throwing up in pain. But I have seen all of those things through today, and jogging with all of my might again is a feeling inexpressible.

Sometimes tough situations build strong people.

I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter how bad the pain we are feeling is, either physical or mental, as long as we can still feel the love of those that love us, we will survive that pain, over and over again.

Chronic-illness is lonely, yes. You will fight for your health every day. People will call you lazy or dramatic. People will give their homeopathic advice, but an arnica mountain daisy isn’t going to cure your crippling disease. People will make you feel the most lonely you’ve ever felt in your life. But here you are—living despite the battle of not only your disease but of people that don’t understand what you’re going through.

Your pain is real. Your loneliness is real. But you will make it through this, and you will be stronger. I am here for you, and so are the millions of others who get exactly what you’re going through.

You’re not alone.