As I was cooking lunch today, I thought of how much my mental health issues have affected me so diversely and how frustrating it’s been trying to put it out there to different aspects of my life that just don’t really see it. So I decided to write about how those different aspects of my life view my mental health from their respective responses. I decided to start of with my family’s response and how it’s affected me.
I can’t say there’s many of my family that know about my daily struggle with my mental health. Reason being, I for one didn’t want them to view me differently & second I was hoping that they would find out when it got too bad and I probably was on the blink of possible insanity. I recall a time when I was so into my depression that I was so focused on trying to get subtle ways to relay how bad of a state I was in and I thought if I wrote so bluntly how bad things were at the time and posted it out on my social, a few of them would take their time to read and finally see how I was. Sadly, nobody ever noticed. My nuclear family is very small. I just have a sister and a dad. My mum’s absence is so the sole reason I’m this damaged. For starters, my father has no idea and I mean none at all of what I go through. I’ve never bothered to try explain what exactly being depressed in this era means because I believe in his younger times, there wasn’t much of depression or any kind of mental health awareness issues then. He’s old school and coming from an African background, it doesn’t get any easier to explain what exactly feeling depression or anxiety is like . I’ve previously been advised to try but I kinda already know it’s a dead end with him and then again, I’d rather not subject him to the torture of visualizing his youngest daughter as a cutter. So mostly, they reason I’ve not told him is a means of protection for him to not see the damaged person behind his daughters young eyes.
For anyone who knows me personally, they can attest to the fact that my sister & I are inseparable. We have always had each other since my mum passed away and so it’s always been the two of us against the world. The very first time I was aware I was depressed was sometime last year and it was a really hard experience. We live together with my sister and over that period of time, she could physically see how bad things were but she didn’t or couldn’t fathom what exactly was the problem. It seemed a lot to her like I was intentionally not willing to be happy, not willing to get out bed & not willing to help myself in anyway possible. She wasn’t so wrong on that because depression doesn’t give you a chance to motivate yourself or pull yourself out of it. It buries you and convinces you that its comfortable to feel that sad and lonely inside. That your undeserving of any joy or happiness. She’d leave for work and I’d be left in the house wallowing in my own self pity and self loathe while completely physically and mentally drained. I never blamed her for not understanding because she wasn’t in my shoes. Her personality doesn’t give her a chance to emotions like feeling remotely depressed because she believes she doesn’t got time for it ; oh how I wish I could feel the same. Later in the evening, she’d come home and find me right where she left me without having changed a thing. I guess it was quite frustrating for her to not understand what the problem was. This recent period of my depression, I realized things changed in terms of her perspective of my illness. She relayed more concern about me as much as I tried sheltering her from seeing it. Not until I started self harming did I realize that she needed to know. When I broke the news to her ,she had a stoic face on. I was so scared she’d lash out at me for doing what I had started doing to myself but she didn’t have much of a reaction. I allowed her to let it sink in and when she was finally able to talk to me about it, she told me it broke her heart and for me knowing that was a deal breaker that I needed to at least try getting it under control. I was grateful because after that we were able to try different things to help me, she even tried getting me a different therapist. For the first time ever, I was glad I wasn’t alone.
The rest of the few family members who have seemingly learned of mental struggles are actually not near me.They are abroad. When I first approached them with it, it was to get help in terms of funding so I could be able to pay for a therapist. Good therapist in my country are quite expensive, I would know since I’m studying to be one. They expressed quite the concern since the alarm that set them off to questioning that something was actually wrong with me was my constant status updates on my whatsapp that showed quite dark aesthetics of how I was feeling. I didn’t expect them to read my blog, I gave up those subtle ways of trying to cry for help. There wasn’t much I expected from them so their response to my mental instability was quite as I expected but I was grateful because through them, I was able to see a therapist.
Would I like any other family members to know the struggles of what it’s like to go through any form of mental illness, no..Would I wish they gave it the urgency that it sometimes needs, yes. I wouldn’t want them to know that it’s something that is real and so present for me because sadly, I’m aware of the stereotypical opinions they probably have towards it. I would probably get a lot of “you gotta move on Mercy, your mum would like you to accept that she’s gone and move on. “ I know that my mum would like me to have a happier life but I didn’t sign up to struggle with mental health issues. So yeah, that’s pretty much how my health mentally has been responded to by my family. I wish in all honesty that my mental health was just a me having a pity party over loosing my mum. I have had wars in my head of whether it’s been just that, pity parties or silly cries for attention. I still sometimes do think they are but it’s all in my head. When is it never.
Mental health issues are very singular. They don’t spill over to other people just because they are around you or related to you. They struggle of it is very individualistic and unsocial.