What it’s Like Living With Mental Health Struggles: A Therapist’s Personal Perspective.
Disclaimer….this is not the typical therapist sharing helpful tools and uplifting encouragement. This is just another human (who happens to have some knowledge and experience that can help sometimes) suffering with mental illness trying to share what it’s like for those who don’t understand and to validated those who unfortunately do understand.
Living with mental illness is…. hard. It’s just fucking hard. You can feel broken, defective, difficult, alone, and a whole laundry list of other things. Everyone thinks we’re all supposed to be able to control our emotions. What a nice idea. That doesn’t always feel possible when you have a mental health disorder. And in some cases, it’s actually impossible. We don’t have total control of our own brains all the time. That’s a wild feeling. It’s scary at times knowing my brain is going to tell me things and make me say or do things that I wouldn’t ordinarily do and that later I will feel guilt/shame about.
I have three diagnosed mental health disorders: ADHD, Complex PTSD (CPTSD), and Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD). The OCPD is all about maintaining control. Ironic. My disorder tries to make me feel safer by using control. But my disorders also cause me to be out of control. What a fucked up deal huh? They don’t let me enjoy life a lot of times. I have to be very intentional and work very hard to stay level and enjoy life in the way that people without mental illness just live naturally. There’s a lot of grief that comes with that. And anger. Man, there’s a lot of anger. All of this can make me pretty miserable to be around sometimes…. which then causes guilt, shame, and intense loneliness. When I’m having a hard time, sometimes I feel the need to isolate. No, isolation is not typically a good coping tool, and I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it. But for me sometimes it serves two purposes. It protects me from adding any additional stress on top of what I’m already dealing with. It also protects my loved ones from my irritability and anger. But it’s also a damned double-edged sword because that’s terribly lonely. It’s an awful place to be having to sit by yourself while your brain wages a war inside.
There are days when I can embrace my self-care practices, and they are enough to keep me grounded. There are also days when they aren’t enough, and I just have to ride it out. And there are the really hard days when I’m pissed that I have to do any of it and just say fuck and don’t do any of it because it’s all too much. In those cases, you just hope tomorrow is better.
So that is all. No words of wisdom or encouraging silver linings in this one. Just the raw, extremely vulnerable realities of mental health disorders and the long-lasting impacts of trauma. For the others, I see you. I understand to the depths of my soul how difficult it can be and what a warrior you are. Love and light to you.