I’m sure some of you are wondering why I do what I do.
Why do I publicise my journey? Why do I talk about my anxiety? Why do I document my recovery? Why am I so honest and open about what I go through?
I’m sure some of you are thinking it’s because I’m seeking attention or recognition. I’m sure some of you are thinking that the reason I write about my journey is for positive reinforcement or external validation.
I’m sure some of you think that I’m doing the wrong thing. I’m sure some of you think that I’m far too inexperienced to be telling my story. I’m sure some of you are thinking that I’m doing this purely for attention.
You’re entitled to your opinion. You’re entitled to judge me privately or publically. But I want you to know the truth and the facts before you make up your mind.
The reason I talk about my experience with mental illness the way I do is because people are still quick to link mental illness with a thirst for attention. I’ve seen it happen. I’ve been in situations where people have described anxiety as a cop-out. An excuse to get out of a difficult situation. And if I’m being honest, before I fully understood my own illness, I was one of those people too.
Anxiety and panic disorder isn’t just a racing heart rate. It’s not just shaking. It’s sitting on a gravel driveway with your arms around your knees. It’s not being able to stand up and walk home. It’s the type of crying that causes snot to coat your hair and soak your clothes.
Depression isn’t just feeling sad. It’s lying in your bed staring at the ceiling and feeling absolute emptiness. It’s tears soaking you pillow when you don’t even know what you’re crying about. It’s looking at your street sign and not even knowing where you are or why it matters.
An eating disorder isn’t just declining breakfast. It’s being within the healthy weight range and being overcome by self-loathing. It’s a calm, confident exterior whilst your brain is in turmoil. It’s battling with your food choices every single day. It’s guilt. It’s fear. It’s anger. It’s frustration. It’s not wanting to say you’re hurting because you’re afraid someone will say you’re attention seeking.
That’s why I talk about my experience. Because mental illness isn’t a cop-out. It isn’t an excuse. It’s real. It’s frightening. And it’s still outrageously stigmatised.
I stayed silent for four years before I admitted I wasn’t okay. Before I asked for help. Before I told my best friends about my past. I suffered in silence and in shame because I was afraid to ask for help. I was afraid that I would be judged.
Asking for help was the best thing I have ever done. If you’re still going to judge me that’s fine because I’m not doing it for you.
I’m doing it for people who are still suffering in silence because they feel they can’t speak up.