Here’s a sentence I never thought I’d hear myself utter – there’s been a really lovely hashtag on twitter this week – #whatyoudontsee. For the most part it’s been about depression, but it could equally be applied to any mental illness, and simply put, it’s people all over the world sharing the hidden aspects of mental illness. I’ve hopped in and out of it the last couple of days, and aside from nodding sagely in agreement with more than a few of the statements, I found I wanted to add some of my own as well. Nothing profound, nothing new, but things that got me thinking.

In no particular order, what you don’t see is with me is……..

  • just how hard I’m working at not lashing out at you because I know you’ve done nothing to deserve it
  • the hours I lose replaying conversations in my head to figure out if I said anything wrong or upset you
  • my total inability to make a decision because I’m convinced whichever option I go with will be wrong. It’s paralysing
  • realising yet again that my reaction has been disproportionate to the situation
  • how hard I have to try not to lash out at those closest to me when I’m triggered 🙁
  • the unbelievable amount of effort that goes into controlling overwhelming emotions
  • I’m not ignoring you. I just don’t know how to make conversation today
  • me avoiding you because I can’t think straight enough to make conversation
  • How absolutely drained even the nicest of social interactions can leave me
  • I don’t want you to fix me. Just listen. Or throw chocolate at me
  • How much I’ve learned about myself and other people, the changes I’ve made
  • the incredible difference a kind word or gesture can make
  • the sheer frustration of not being able to make it better
  • the guilt, about absolutely everything…. Impact on family, impact on work, not being able to engage with people….
  • the CONSTANT second guessing of every thought…. Is it real? Is it disordered?

You get where I’m going with this.

I found myself getting really frustrated today. Cycle against suicide started this morning, and whatever it is about how I think, it doesn’t make me feel better. Nothing about the campaign makes me feel like ‘it’s ok not to be ok’. Maybe I’m just jealous of the coverage they get. But what is it achieving? It’ll be all over twitter for the next two weeks, it’ll get good media coverage. But then? What about all the people who start saying they’re not ok? What are they supposed to do? (yes, I know raising awareness is important. But I’m impatient to see action, not just words).

I think that’s why I found this hashtag so reassuring. It’s real. Seeing people who are fit, healthy, active and generally getting on swimmingly with their lives (sweeping generalisation I know) does not inspire me to push on with the changes I know I need to make. It makes the end goal seem impossibly far away. I realise I run the risk of pissing a lot of you off in saying this, but that’s where my thoughts have been today.

On the plus side, I happened across a tweet from Marian Keyes this evening that helped me more than any number of orange clad cyclists could – ‘Feeling like a failure because I could only manage 3 hours work today when once-upon-a-time I could do 10 hours a day‘. That makes it ok. That, I can relate to.

*Thanks so the lovely Lucie for inspiring me to write this post, I completely stole her idea. 


This article has 2 Comments

  1. Wow that packed a punch! Helped me on so many levels, not least because you can write about feelings I can’t even express.And your courage in bring so open….

  2. Yeah, I agree with you. I think that the “it’s ok not to feel ok” slogan is trite and hollow. I already know that it’s ok to feel whatever I’m feeling so I don’t need anyone giving me permission to feel those emotions. I also think it’s a bit condescending considering that there’s so little money being invested in mental health. A lot of the people doing cycle for suicide might have had mild mental health issues but nothing on the scale of my more severe mental health issues so I don’t feel that they really speak for me. I don’t relate to them at all…can’t identify with their issues. A run or cycle is not going to cure my mental health issues. There’s way too many mental health charities in Ireland anyway as opposed to actually having a proper mental health system. The mental health charities have good intentions and I don’t mean to disparage them but they’re really only scraping the surface of a huge iceberg of mental ill health in this country.

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