Being mentally unwell is so different to being physically unwell, at least for me. A broken arm follows a well-understood trajectory of injury and healing, and most people will recognise your disability. It’s not like that with mental illness.
No-one can see it, and therefore it’s not really real to people. You can’t see an anxiety disorder, you can’t point to depression. It’s easy enough to say ‘come on, get over it’.
When I’m really unwell, I’m practically non-functional. Leaving the house is only going to happen for medical appointments. And I accept that at the time. Later, it’s different. Later, I’m probably harder on myself than the rest of the world is. I feel like maybe I was just faking it, some sort of hysteria. I’m getting up and going out now, why couldn’t I before. I just wasn’t trying enough.
The smaller disabilities of recovery bother me. Getting tired after going out? That’s just because I’ve been so lazy over the past few months. I need to get over it. Breaking down in tears when plans change with little notice is just being useless. No reason for the tears except maybe self-indulgence. Not going places that cause anxiety? That’s just laziness.
This is how my day is framed – with the notion that I was never that sick, and that I’m not sick now, just not trying hard enough. I can accept it when I’m paralysed by illness. Not when I’m only a bit depressed, with a healthy side of anxiety.