Sunday, 13 May 2018

Mental illness; the ugly truth

With Mental Health Awareness week beginning tomorrow, I wanted to do a mental health post depicting the ugly truths of living with these debilitating illnesses. Far too often in tv shows and movies, we see a romanticised version of what it's like to suffer from mental illness. So I wanted this post to be brutally honest, so it does come with a trigger warning. Living with a mental illness is horrible and as it is an invisible illness, those who don't suffer struggle to understand. So I took to Twitter and asked people to tell me what it is like living with their illness, here is their story, here is their ugly truth.  


I don't even want to leave my bed. I will set up my computer so I can watch Netflix laying down and binge watch shows/movies. Constantly dozing off and on. Exhausted, drained, weak, sore, numb. Staring at the wall wondering if it could get any worse. Not taking a shower for days, pretending to be okay and eating my feelings in a dark room trying to fill the black hole that is my soul. Crying too much or not being able to cry at all. Feeling broken and bruised, forever shattered. Staring at myself in the mirror and not even recognizing my own reflection. But even though I am broken, I wear a mask of complete contentment so the world will not know of my darkness. For if I let them in to break down these walls, they would get lost with me in the labyrinth of my own destructive thoughts.- Rose @JessesGirl588

One of the ugliest things for me I guess is how I have to be looked after almost like a child, people constantly checking to make sure I've taken my meds, eaten, drank, the stubbornness that comes with it, refusing to do them because you just want to give up and you're so tired of doing the things that are keeping you alive because they're so damn hard. I've sat and stared into space with snot and tears running down my face while a teacher tried so hard to convince me that people loved me and that I wasn't a burden. Not saying a word. That's the ugliest thing, the ugly person it makes me. Feeling so isolated and alone that when people try to help you can't even accept it. You snap at the people you love, you ignore messages, you make it so hard for them because you can't see how their help would make anything better anyway. -Hayley @tatto0edtears

Living with Depression is a daily battle, you never know how you're going to feel on a given day and any little thing can seemingly give you a depressive mood. When you hit depression, you feel as if you will never be happy again, that you are just a burden on society and everyone else and that your life is worthless and has no meaning. If that sounds dramatic, it's because depression can make you believe these things even with no evidence and it can make you feel alone with your thoughts, that you have no outlet for your feelings. Which is why depression is hard to overcome as you have to do the things that scare you the most, whether it's reaching out to a friend or support network, going outside or distracting yourself from your current feelings. -Peter @pjshaw192


Having anxiety is often seen as fear or nervousness about a situation, but it's much more than that. Anxiety is feeling completely out of sorts, drained of all energy, sick to your stomach at the thought of doing something, usually something new and out of your comfort zone. Anxiety convinces you that something will go wrong if you do the thing you're worried about and you start to overplay the situation in your mind creating catastrophic consequences that to others will seem ridiculous, but to you seem perfectly logical. As you go over the different ways that this situation will go disastrously, you then look for ways to back out as you can't stand the pain you're in and it becomes easy to take the easy way out, which then leads to depression about why you can't overcome your anxiety. - Peter @pjshaw192

Anxiety is like a belt being tied around your chest too tight, you want to be able to breathe properly but the belt is inhibiting that, and no one can take the belt off for you. So you walk around convincing yourself that you must be able to breathe because you haven't passed out, but why then is breathing so damn hard? It's feeling sick as though someone has put a ball of electricity in your stomach and its thoughts that are racing so fast that it hurts your brain. -Angela 

Borderline Personality Disorder 

Borderline Personality Disorder is complicated and it affects everything I do. Everyone around me seems to be able to interact with others easily, but not me and I wonder - what is wrong with me? I feel empty - like a sad lonely bottle left in the recycle bin. I have spent years fighting with my brain. Constantly questioning who I really am, other than crazy. My emotions can be all over the place, I feel like I am running up an escalator that is traveling in the opposite direction. The top is my goal of being "normal" and when an emotion hits I stall and end up back at the bottom. At 29 I was diagnosed after an attempted suicide and got the help I needed. Whilst I have taken huge steps forward, I am still fighting. - Syd @MHBC_PODCAST

I am borderline. I fear abandonment, the suffocating, engulfing feeling of being left alone in a world where no one is who you need. I have suicidal thoughts that cut deep into my brain, unrelenting, feeding me their lies until they become my truths. I deal with a constant, aggressive need to harm myself, a sea of angry red crisscrosses that will remain as scars where skin was once clean. I feel intense, enveloping levels of paranoia, fear so deep that it makes me physically weak. I experience emptiness, heavy for something that makes you feel like you are nothing. I have obsessive thoughts, twisted scenarios knotting their way into the fabric of my brain. I feel deep, paralyzing darkness, coating my entire being with its ruthless despair and hopelessness. I am borderline. But I am not what you think. I am more than just symptoms. I am. - Anonymous 


Self-harm isn't just what you can physically see on my body today. Its the years of hundreds of scars that weren't deep enough to stay forever, its the scratches, and the nails that dug in, its pain inflicted that gave temporary release. Self-harm turned me into a liar, into someone who needed to put this habit, addiction first. One night 5 years ago when I was in the thick of it, with my 7-year-old cousin in the bed next to me I sliced my skin open multiple times, I watched to make sure she didn't wake whilst holding tissues to my skin. Self-harm turned me into someone I wasn't. -Anonymous 

Suicidal Ideation 

Suicidal thoughts flash across my mind when I am overwhelmed. On numerous occasions I have planned different ways to end my life, wondering what would happen if I jerk the steering wheel to crash my car, step out in front of oncoming traffic, the list goes on. For me, self-harm also played a role as each time I succumbed to the urge it would cause an additional spike in suicidal thoughts, out of shame. Thinking back to when I was at my worst and attempted to take my own life, I scared myself. Thankfully I was unsuccessful but at the time I felt like a complete failure. I couldn't even manage to get that right. Now after a BPD diagnosis and treatment, I am so glad I failed. The thoughts are now less prominent more on the periphery but still there lurking. - Syd @MHBC_PODCAST

I sat in my car after purchasing chemicals that when mixed would put me to sleep in seconds and kill me within minutes. I had written messages on some paper and taped them to my windows, warning those who found me to call a hazmat team. I sat in the park for hours, crying. I was afraid of living and was afraid of dying. The only thing that I wanted was to achieve a sense of peace. I wanted decades of pain, suffering, and misery to be over. Borderline personality disorder took my job, family, friends, financial security and most importantly, myself. I was one bad decision away from being the 1 in 10 who kill themselves due to this disorder. I'm one of the lucky ones who still have a chance at achieving peace by living and not dying. -@bpdinwaterloo


Bipolar isn't a glamorous illness but I think glamour is attributed to it far too often. People also think mania is pleasant... it isn't always. There's the case of dysphoric mania (which is actually a mixed state) which leaves me irritable and angry. The other part of bipolar that people don't always know about/consider is the possible presence of psychotic symptoms. Being delusional doesn't always bother me, because quite frankly, I don't know until after the fact and it can be pleasant (thinking I'm in some way special as in I have telekinesis, I'm incredibly talented, or I'm not from earth). Being paranoid, on the other hand, is one of the worst things I've ever experienced. For me, I tend to think loved ones are after me. Hallucinations are also terrifying at times (seeing demons, smelling what smells like an electrical fire). - @KellKe11


Let me start with eating disorders do so much more than possibly make you thinner...and that's just possibly, it's not a guarantee. What is a guarantee is that you're very very sick and yes that it can kill you. My mother feared for my life when I was very sick (It's in remission) and between purging upwards of fifteen times a day (I didn't always binge, sometimes I was purging anything I ate or sometimes drank) and taking handfuls of diet pills... I almost died. Also, I'm 35 years old.... and missing 3 teeth and the rest aren't great. My body will never be what it could have been. My stomach is very likely messed up from it too. - @KellKe11

Skin Picking 

So skin picking has been my guilty secret for such a long time. Only recently have I confessed to doing it. My body bears the scars of this habit. My skin triangles, if there is a loose bit of skin or a scab. I have to check my body and clear it of them. This usually results in bloodstained clothes or bedding. It mostly happens when I'm anxious and alone in bed. I will use tweezers to pull off bits of loose skin. The last bout was my worst and when I decided I couldn't hide it anymore. I had picked most of the skin from the palm of my hand. 2 months later and it's only just healing. It was painful to do and also after was a constant pain. It's a nice pain, reassuring because it's a feeling and with depression, feelings are numbed. No matter how much skin I tore, how painful it is, I just can't stop during a bout. As the anxiety lessens so does the urge. - @Suziewong110271


Am I awake? Am I still dreaming? Is this real life? Am I even still alive? Who am I? These questions and more go through my mind on a constant loop. What is happening to me? I feel like I'm slowly falling apart and my mind is becoming unhinged. My eyes glad over and I become a zombie. How did I even get here? It wasn't until I did research that I knew I was dissociating. It is a form of self-protection, a defense mechanism that I have developed. I can go into this state for hours. One night I was driving home from a friends house and ended up in a completely different town than where I was living and I don't even remember how I go there. I have lost time, memories, words, thoughts and feeling and don't even understand how to control it; I can't, it controls me. - Rose @JessesGirl588


Terrified of large crowds, terrified of being alone, terrified of going to sleep in the dark so I have to have a light on but what if someone can see me through the window? Can't walk by an open door that is dark outside. Can't close my eyes while taking a shower because someone might come in and grab me. Walk fast; don't make eye contact because if I do and if I smile then they will think I am being nice which means I'm vulnerable, which means they can hurt me. Won't put my blinker on in the dark or the person behind me knows where I am going. Silent panic attacks, shaking, mind shuts down and I shut down. Nowhere is safe and nobody can be trusted. Might as well lock myself up somewhere where nobody can find me but oh wait, if nobody can find me, then nobody can save me if I do get found.... nobody will hear me scream. - Rose @JessesGirl588


I have a phobia of any medical situation/objects/procedures so basically whenever I see anything like broken bones in casts, injuries, certain wheelchairs it will normally result in me freaking out and fainting. It makes leaving the house extremely difficult because I have no idea if I will see any of my triggers and I don't want to faint in public. I'm also phobic of injections or blood tests, I'm 23 and only had my first blood test last year and not really had any of my injections since the age of around 8. Because hospitals have basically everything I'm phobic of, it's meant I've been unable to visit relatives in hospital that ended up in them passing away whilst in there, you can imagine how hard that it. I struggle with the thoughts of falling ill and needing hospitalization as I know I would never cope staying in a hospital. -@Bird_Butterfly1

I have Emetophobia, a fear of vomit. It sounds easy enough to deal with but it affects every portion of my life. What I eat, if I leave the house, my sleep, socialising, my mood. It even affects the everyday mindless tasks, brushing my teeth at night is extremely difficult. Winter is hell and I am constantly afraid of my own body, I can't escape the thing that scares me most and sometimes that makes me suicidal. -Angela 


The day's barely begun and OCD has already imprisoned me, it has somehow managed to talk all the simple things in life and complicate them beyond their limits. Throughout the course of every day, I spend far too much time giving in to its demands. I avoid people and situations that won't let me stop and do exactly what OCD requires of me. Sometimes I wonder what my life would feel like without OCD. Could I survive? I think so. But every time I try to slip away it grabs me tighter than before. Then suddenly, I'm not only sweeping the floors, cleaning the counters and adjusting products on the windowsill; I'm adding more and more to my list of tasks until there's no room left in the day for anything else.  When I go to lay my head on a pillow that's been previously situated to your liking, I'm drained, exhausted beyond all human capabilities. OCD, you did this to me. Living with you OCD is complicated. -Lucy @lulublueeyes81


C-PTSD symptomology is wide and can be felt at varying degrees of intensity. I find that without coping tools, violent flashbacks and intrusive thoughts with ruminations over my past are some of the most difficult to deal with during the daytime. Seeing my father beating me up with his bare hands or his belt is felt as a present experience, though it is definitely in the past. Rumination and anger at my delayed life are common, just as much as low self-esteem, borne from constant belittling and depersonalization. My sleep is highly perturbed by intrusive nightmares to turn violent realities of the past into fictions of horror, depicting pursuits and escaping from my father in dark, secluded and dense woods. They have also turned into massively gory and bloody fights, including with swords. Living in an unsafe environment left me with nagging feelings of unreachable safety. C-PTSD gave birth to a host of struggles with comorbid mental illnesses, including phobias and anxieties. -Lulu @LuluDigitale


Psychosis is all about thoughts for me, some people get hallucinations and illusions but for me, I get unwanted thoughts that come up in my mind and can't be shifted. These thoughts that always come up during spells of depression and/or anxiety for me, and they revolve around low self-esteem and self-worth. My brain will get fixated on how unworthy and useless I am and will then torture me by telling me about all the times I've failed in life and how I will continue to fail in life. The thoughts can't be shifted by wishing them away and the more you try to ignore them, the more they simply go round in your head. Instead, I've found it useful to write them out and challenge them bu looking at alternative thoughts that are more realistic, which has proven helpful. -Peter @pjshaw192

Schizoaffective Disorder 

I have been worried about my family spying on me, and it has put me in positions where I look for cameras, looking for recording devices. It makes me hide away in places I had checked enough to know there probably weren't any cameras. There are times I worry people are out to poison. I went through a stage of eating very little food, sneaking food in the middle of the night so people hadn't poisoned it. My diet was awful and made me ill. Having schizoaffective disorder is incredibly difficult because it's hard to talk about certain things I'm thinking/feeling/believing. The people in my life can fathom anxiety and depression even if they don't suffer but talking about deeper paranoid thoughts is unfathomable for most. - Tom @tomcolley 

Thank you for all the submissions. 


  1. This was a beautiful post and I loved how it covered so many facets of mental health as well. I wish more people wrote and put out posts like this!!

    Julia // The Sunday Mode

  2. What a touching post! It’s bittersweet to read when people have similar experiences to mine.

    I’m glad that you’ve made a spot for people to speak out.

  3. Wow! I learned so much through this post. And it really is fascinating reading individual experiences and stories.
    For me, I found skin picking the most interesting. I hadn’t heard of this before... it’s so eye opening seeing what others deal with every day, understanding the struggles.