I used to be unbelievably embarrassed about suffering from depression and anorexia because there seems to be a horrible stigma behind any kind of mental illness.
When I was younger and went for “sleep overs” I was so scared that someone would catch me taking my tablets or see them in my bag that t led me to believe I was different and I would long to be “normal” like every other kid.
A few years ago I thought I should stop pushing everyone away and explain to my close friends why I sometimes can’t go out and drink or even think about getting out of bed, so they could understand and hopefully be supportive.
Not everyone understood and I even had a comment thrown at me saying how I should be in a mental institution!
Suffering from depression or another mental illness is a tough battle to fight each and every day and when you incorporate the feeling of being alone and branded as “mental” it certainly doesn’t help the battle.
Talking about mental illness isn’t something common and unfortunately hardly anyone admits to suffering which is not only dangerous but it makes you feel alone in the struggle when in fact it’s very common.
One in five Australians will suffer from a mental illness within a 12 month period. I’ll repeat that: one in five Australians; but we still are left to feel isolated and embarrassed.
I think of my depression and anorexia like any other illness. I certainly didn’t choose to be this way. I don’t have it because I want attention or to hurt my family. I didn’t catch it like a viral infection.
I have it because it’s an illness and it’s the way I have been born.
Like many other illnesses, through scans and tests I have been told it’s something that I will have to manage for the rest of my life, as I have a chemical imbalance.
I now refuse to be embarrassed or labelled as “mental” for suffering from these illnesses because when I think about it, I should be damn proud of myself.
I am still here fighting for my health, I have created a lifestyle that serves me and is healing me and although there are still some days that are tougher than others, I am and I will always fight for my health and happiness.
Since opening up, many people and parents have asked me for advice and to talk to their loved ones who are struggling because they feel alone.
I am more than happy to help and support others in need and in fact I really enjoy it but it upsets me when people say “I don’t know anyone else who would understand”.
Until we use our voices to correct the stigma behind mental illness and to let people know that they are not alone, people will continue to suffer in the dark without any support.
I urge anyone who is suffering to speak to a loved one without fear of judgement because it’s very likely that they have been through it at some stage of their lives.
I would love to hear your thought on this in the comments below.