This was originally published on Liberal America on May 17, 2016.
A writer for the website TopThings2Know wrote a list entitled “7 Things You Can’t See About My Life With Mental Illness.” Today, I would like to provide my own take on these points. Since it is Mental Health Awareness month, I would like to provide some insight into living with a mental health condition.
1. Needing To Sleep More
The author aptly points out that people don’t see all the times she goes to bed early. Keeping a consistent sleep schedule really helps with the anxiety and depression. This is important for everyone, really. Americans are definitely sleep deprived. However, people with psychiatric disorders are more susceptible to sleep issues.
2. Needing To Be Aware Of Emotions
Those of us with a diagnosis need to keep the rampant emotions and anxiety-ridden thoughts in check. The depression can cause feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness among others. It can be an absolute nightmare not being able to trust your own mine. As the author put it:
“They don’t see how many times I have to check in with my body and my feelings.”
3. Distracting The Mind From Obsessive Thoughts
Obsessive thoughts can be many things. It can be just a constant barrage of worried thoughts. As the author puts it:
“Mainly worries something bad will happen or someone will die. I have to constantly refocus my thinking.”
The anxiety and/or paranoia can be a horrid combination. It makes you feel inadequate. It can make you very uncomfortable in public situations. It’s hard to keep your cool in public when you think everyone is out to get you or you think that people are talking about you.
4. Being Cautious With Alcohol
You don’t necessarily have to quit drinking completely unless you have addiction problems. If you suffer from addiction, that is another story. This author just said that she has to keep it down to one or two drinks if she drinks at all. Alcohol can worsen depression, and drinking when you are on psych meds can make you feel the effects of alcohol more. Also, drinking can make depression worse if you are experiencing that.
5. Crowds Can Be Problematic
I don’t have as much of this as some people, but the author points out that she has to avoid places with large crowds. The anxiety can definitely strike when you feel like you don’t have a way out of the location you are at. People that experience mania can also have more anxiety; it activates the body’s fight or flight instinct.
6. Routines Are Good
When dealing with mood disorders, it helps to have routines. Going to be at the same time every night and waking up at the same time every morning can really help manage emotions. One can get stressed and tired and emotional without a proper sleep schedule. The author said that many medications can make you groggy if you don’t get enough sleep. Mood disorders can also affect energy levels, so having a schedule can help you be your most productive.
7. Watching For Triggers
Those of us with a diagnosis have to learn what our triggers are. Everyone has different triggers that lead to anxiety. In my case, stress is a trigger. The author says witnessing violence is a trigger for her. She has to look away from violent TV shows and movies.
Many people do not see the daily struggles that people with mental illness face. Some people don’t understand it, but many of us fight battles in our head every day.