Many people fail to understand that being diagnosed with a mental illness can mean different things. The term ‘mental illness’ covers a mirad of disorders varying greatly in terms of symptoms and the effects on day to day life – anxiety, bi-polar, depression, multiple personality to name but a few.
There is apparently some confusion as to what my diagnosis is, and what it means, so I thought I’d write a little post to clear a few things up.
My diagnosis is depression and generalised anxiety disorder. I occasionally experience disrupted sleep patterns too, which is a by product of the depression/GAD.
I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety 13 years ago, along with panic attacks, although I had been presenting symptoms for some time before that due to a pretty horrendous time at school. My GAD diagnosis came last January.
Generalised anxiety disorder, for me, means constantly experiencing high levels of anxiety. I worry about every tiny thing, even things like ‘is this cup of tea going to be OK for…’. It’s exhausting, and anyone who has been diagnosed with GAD will know what a struggle it can be to try and ‘turn off’ those thoughts. Cognitive behavioural therapy helped me a huge amount in dealing with this. Particularly in sorting out the things worth being concerned about and scrapping the meaningless worries, however CBT doesn’t work for everyone.
My depression was helped by the CBT definitely, however it’s not something I will ever be cured of. I take medication to help alleviate the symptoms (as well as having medication for when my anxiety gets particularly bad), and regularly practice ‘self care’ (if I want to lie in the bath and read a book, I will, thank you!). The ‘bad days’ will result in extreme tiredness and low mood (the two feed each other). I lose my appetite, and even the smallest of tasks will feel like a massive undertaking. Things that I would usually enjoy lose their meaning. The nearest I can get to describing it to someone is that it feels like all the colour has been drained from the world.
I am not, nor have I ever been, considered a risk to myself or anyone else.
My illness doesn’t affect anyone else, other than those that care for me, worry about me, which kinda aggravates my GAD!
Having a routine helps, which is why I struggled so much while I was out of work. Sitting alone, doing nothing, isn’t good for anyone, and it certainly doesn’t help you get out of a funk!
To look at me, you wouldn’t guess I’m ‘ill’. I doesn’t often affect my day to day life, and when it does, I am still able to function quite well, I’m just more tired than usual.
Having to explain myself is irritating, and being judged by others for being diagnosed with (and being very open about) depression isn’t the best experience, but I realise that people that have little to no interest in educating themselves about mental illness aren’t really worth worrying about. There’s that CBT coming out…!!!
So, for anyone reading this that doesnt quite ‘get it’ – don’t judge people on what you think or what you would like to believe about someone. Take a couple of minutes out of your day to try to understand them. And remember – putting someone down just to make yourself feel better is a pretty sad way to be living your life.
Be kind to each other x
If you have any questions, feedback, need some advice or just want to offload, feel free to use the contact me! Part of the site.