This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, and there are going to be lots of people sharing about mental health, campaigning for better care, support, understanding, and about what it’s like to live with a mental health diagnosis and the struggles people face, and how people live life with mental health issues.
I am not going to write much, myself. There are far more eloquent and better writers than me, who will share their stories and experiences, and put their views forward on how we as a society can accept and support those of us with mental health issues, and our families who live with us. I don’t have much to say that can’t be said better by others.
What I do need to say is this, though and I think it applies to many of us, who walk this road of mental health issues.
My name is Karen. I have a diagnosis of moderate generalized anxiety disorder, with depression. I was diagnosed in November 2013 and since then, I have lived with that diagnosis, and the long term implications of a mental health condition that will never go away.
It took me a while to accept that I was classified as someone with a “mental health” condidtion. It took me a while to accept help, to take medication (I am currently not on medication and doing ok) and to work out how life for me, would work, with a label.
But it was a relief, too. To have a name for what goes on in my head. To have someone tell me that it was ok, and that what I had was something other people struggled with, and that I could get help. No one promised me that I would get “better” but they did tell me that I wasn’t alone and I wasn’t crazy.
Anxiety isn’t easy to live with. It’s my tunnel, that sometimes is very dark and hard to navigate, but it’s now a tunnel I at least understand and I know that I can find my way along, in a way that works for me and allows me to live my life.
My diagnosis won’t go away. It won’t stop. I won’t suddenly wake up not anxious. Just like someone with diabtetes or arthritis, or any other chronic long term illness, I live with it daily. Some days are good, some are ok, some are bad. For me, knowing how to face off the bad, sometimes even ward it off before it lands, has been key.
I have a label, and that’s ok. Because it means someone understands what is going on in my head and when life is really tough, I know why.
I am at peace with this. I don’t want to be “cured”. I don’t want to be anxious or feel this way, but it’s part of who I am and I am learning to not let it define me, but for me to live my life in a way that it doesn’t flood all my corners and black out everything that brings light to my life. I don’t want to be told “well if you just relaxed and stopped worrying you would be ok” or “have you tried hypnotherapy?” or “have you tried this herb” or any of the myriad of things that people think will help.
I do a lot for myself, to keep life balanced. Sometimes I manage it well, sometimes it needs a bit of help to make things manageable.
I need for you, world, to accept me. I am ok with my diagnosis. It’s not a death sentence, it’s not a curse. It’s ok. I am not crazy, or dangerous, nor am I broken. I still love life, the people in my life, what I do, and the world around me, I just manage my emotions and my mental health in order to be able to function within all those things. I am not ashamed and I won’t hide it. My mental health diagnosis is not harmful to you, or me.
My name is Karen, and I have a mental health diaginiss that is never going to go away. I am ok with that, it’s part of who I am. I need you, to be ok with it too…
Thank you for reading, and if you know me in real life and want to talk to me honestly about how you feel about this, and how I feel, and you want to understand, feel free to ask me. I am not ashamed or angry. I want to talk, so others can understand. If you are someone who thinks you may need mental health help, or are struggling, please know you ARE not alone. Reach out. I am happy to talk or you can speak to someone who can help you find the support you need…
We are #NotBroken