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The Biggest Frustration of Living with Mental Illness

The hardest part of having a mental illness is not what you would expect.  It’s not feeling that the world will collapse if I make a mistake.  It’s not the feeling that I don’t feel the way I “should.” Both of these are common thoughts that run through my mind, and from what I understand, they are completely normal for those who have anxiety. The most difficult part of having a mental illness is that you can never fully communicate exactly what is going on to the point where people can understand it.

Not being able to express precisely how you feel is consistently frustrating. It’s not something that I’ve ever come to terms with.  At times I lash out at someone who is trying to understand, and I never mean to.  It’s not because they are being insensitive or are wrong in what they are saying.  It’s because I feel I’m not explaining things correctly, and if I could just find those perfect words to communicate how my anxiety/depression feels, then everything would be fine. It drives me crazy.

69ed5bfd501834135f4dad7ab22a44d4The frustration bubbles when I’m talking with someone, and they are trying to relate. Please don’t get me wrong.  I’m not frustrated with them.  I’m frustrated with myself.  I’m frustrated that something is wrong with me, that my experience is so far off that I can’t put it into words, that it’s so unnatural that a “normal” person wouldn’t be able to comprehend what I meaning.  Sometimes it comes out more aggressive than I anticipate or intend. I try to apologize when I notice it as it has nothing to do with the individual I may be snappy with.  It has everything to do with the frustration I have with myself.  Sometimes I wonder if this is what toddlers feel like when they are trying reason why they feel the way they do, but can’t.  They just don’t know or have the words to describe it.

I’ve been on the receiving end of this as well, so I know how confusing it can be to try and relate to someone to have them tell you that you just aren’t getting it.  You’re trying but you can’t seem to grasp what they are trying to describe.  I know that feeling all too well.  I do my best to take it in stride, but even when talking with another person with a mental illness, there’s this feeling of disconnect.  It doesn’t matter if we even have the same disorder.  We experience them so uniquely that trying to find someone who has a similar experience can be difficult. My best friend has an anxiety disorder as well, and even in heightened times of stress, we experience anxiety so differently.  For her, the mental symptoms come first.  Me…I experience physical symptoms before the anxiety even comes. My body gives me advanced notice to try and address the situation. (It works about 50% of the time.)

even-simple-tasks-can-be-frustratingI sometimes wonder what other people think I’m feeling when I say I have anxiety or depression. Do they truly understand the weight behind those words?  Or do they just think I’m filled with worry or sadness?  Do they understand that when I say I’m anxious that I’m not worried, but I’m envisioning the most catastrophic ending I can possibly think of?  How can I make them understand it’s more than just “if I don’t do this right, then I’ll have to start over, and that’s exhausting?”  It’s more…”if I don’t do this right, then the next phase will be wrong as well. If that is wrong, then my boss is going to come talk to me.  If he does that, and I can’t figure it out, he’s going to fire me.  If he fires me then I’m not going to be able to pay bills.  If I cant’ pay my bills, I’m going to get evicted.  If I get evicted, where am I going to go?  Who’s going to want to employ a homeless woman who looks disheveled? ” I can turn almost anything into me becoming homeless and alone.  Clearly that is my ultimate fear, but how do I relay all of that without looking like a crazy person? What’s the right word or phrase to describe that? That is where my frustration lies.

For me, it is truly the worst part of mental illness.  I won’t be able to express myself freely and correctly without others looking at me like I’m crazy.  It does not help that in the past I’ve had someone use that knowledge to their benefit.  When you are trying to express yourself openly and tell them how you are feeling, they call you crazy to your face.  It’s one of the most damaging experiences I’ve had as someone with mental illness, to open up and trust someone, to have them confirm your defective. **As a side note, I’d like to mention that since I’ve had this experience with an individual, I began to learn to discuss my feelings with more than one person. It always ends up that the only person who thought I was crazy was that one individual.  That’s when friends introduced me to the term gaslighting.**

3d62e7e03bf42cad9e25f8b1368b7452That fear has not gone away though.  I still find myself struggling to the pick the words I use to describe my moods.  It’s as if there are not adjectives in the English language to fully capture how heavy it can be. I don’t want to use anything to “scary” or “heavy” that will put people off.  I don’t want to go into a long description of how I feel in fear that it will make me look crazy.  And at times, it really just makes me want to scream.





25 thoughts on “The Biggest Frustration of Living with Mental Illness

  1. Thank you for your post. It helps me (and I’m sure a lot of other readers) understand mental health issues a lot better from a different perspective. I know writing can be very therapeutic (it is for me) I hope writing this post gave you some relieve just getting it off your chest. Please don’t worry, you don’t sound crazy at all. It’s refreshing to see how honest and open your post is. Very nice!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Beautifully written, I agree though that more often than not people who do not struggle, don’t understand and it can make any situation even more stressful. Know that you are not alone, and that at least we embrace it, and try to live with it. I know of many, and some are colleagues, that are in constant denial and can’t see how their anxiety overpowers their whole lives. You are brave and strong, and you are better than your anxiety. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I couldn’t imagine, so I don’t pretend too but I do listen and know a few people who do live and struggle with mental illness. Hopefully this post was a nice release, it was very open and honest and well written.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Beautifully written. I have anxiety and have suffered from post partum depression and when my late husband passed depression again. I think a lot of people don’t know how to respond or react to a person with mental illness unless they too have experienced it. Otherwise people like to judge and be hateful when they need to be more understanding and supportive.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My best friend lives to say that they don’t realize that it’s what they consider with our stress on steroids. Lol. They don’t understand the feeling out thought process, so they can’t relate it to anything else.


  5. Beautiful post and I can completely relate. I struggle trying to communicate with my friends when I have to leave and be by myself and all they want to do is ask what’s wrong and help me but I end up lashing out. It’s hard because everyone just wants to help you but nobody understands that sometimes the best help is to just say “okay” when someone tells you what they need to do. I even struggle with my sister even though we both suffer from the same illnesses, it is so different and I’ll get angry because I don’t understand why what works for me isn’t working for her. It’s hard on both ends to communicate.

    I always thought there was something wrong with me, my friends would think I was rude and I would blame myself but it was in the last year that I stopped apologising for my disorder and started thanking my friends for working with me instead of against me. Mental illness really makes life tough but I’ll be sharing this on social feeds because it really does well to communicate what I agree is the biggest struggle with it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you feel it is helpful. I always find it so ironic that we can all have the same illness, but be so unique within it. It’s an interesting community to be a part of. We all struggle, but we all experience it in different ways. There is definitely nothing wrong with you.


  6. Very well written and enlightening post on understanding mental health issues. I can clearly see and feel from your post that communicating your feeling with others is a big issue. You are definitely on the right track as you have written a clear and communicative post that is going to help lots of people with similar problems. Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I can understand how frustrating things can be at times. Even for a normal person with no illness, sometimes life takes turn and makes the life extremely frustrating.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Such a beautiful and honest post about mental health. I see your words in the eyes of my son. He talks about many of the same things. I always tell him that he doesn’t have to make me understand .. I’ll be there in the moment for him whether I do or not.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s wonderful that you are there for him, no questions asked. I do suggest not ever saying…Have you just tried not thinking about it? If he comes to about something that is upsetting him. Lol. I swear that’s a common mom question.


  9. Sometimes the best listeners are people who don’t necessarily relate to what you are going to, but are willing to be there as you kind of figure things out. Being given the space to process stuff is quite a rare gift these days.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. My daughter struggles with anxiety. I don’t understand what she is going through I just know I need to always stop and think before I open my mouth. And I always let her say how it made her feel if I may have misspoken it is very hard! Hang in there! Loved the article!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Just recently I saw a news segment about these two girls who started a movement on Facebook called the #sadcollective. A lot of what you wrote about they also talked about too. Anyway, it’s gained so much momentum that it now has the support of the largest mental health facility in Toronto CAMH.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Really nice you have written this, at least we can see anxiety from a different perspective, it is alwayseasy to judge when you are not the one who suffers from it, it is always easy to find solutions when it is for someone else as well, but when you are in the situation things are very different. Thanks for sharing this, it is really intresting to read

    Liked by 1 person

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