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Things I Wish People Knew About Mental Health

As someone who has been living with mental illness for many years, there are so many things that I just wish people could know and understand about mental health. Due to stigmas, there are still a lot of misconceptions about what people with mental illness struggle with. This makes it incredibly hard for people suffering with mental health issues because of judgement and people just not fully grasping what we go through. I understand not everyone deals with mental illness, whether personally or with a loved one, so that is why I put together this list of things I wish people knew about mental health! I’m hoping to give some people that don’t know some insight into what it is really like.

  1. Just because I look okay on the outside does not mean that I am doing well mentally. Some people are really good at masking their depression. If people weren’t good at masking their depression, we wouldn’t have so many people saying “I had no idea anything was wrong” after someone dies by suicide.
  2. Everyone’s experience with mental health is different. Everyone has different symptoms. For me, my depression can make it really hard to do everyday tasks, including feeding myself, because I just do not have the will. When I made a TikTok talking about how depression makes doing some things hard and how people usually just chalk it up to laziness saying mental health is just an excuse, there were a lot of mean comments saying it is laziness. Here’s the thing though, being so depressed you can’t get out of bed is a lot different than being lazy.
  3. I avoid a lot of things because of my anxiety. I miss out on events and parties because of my anxiety. I’m 24 years old and I’ve never been to the Big E because being in loud, crowded places makes me anxious. I’ve had so many people try and get me to go with them, and while I feel bad turning down plans, I know not going is better than being anxious and uncomfortable the entire time I’m out. I also don’t say a lot out loud because I am afraid I’ll sound stupid or because I’m afraid of people not liking me because I have a different opinion than them. I’m even too anxious to tell most people what I would like to do because I’m afraid they won’t want to do it so my brain tells me it’s just better not to tell them and to ask what they want to do.
  4. Sometimes, it becomes too much and I might unintentionally take it out on others. When I explode, it might seem like I’m an asshole, but sometimes I get overstimulated or there’s something that triggers my trauma. Like for me, any time anyone asks me ANY kind of question, I immediately get on the defensive because I grew up feeling like I had to defend myself because I was told I was always lying (even when I was telling the truth). So now, I always feel the need to defend myself, and I get really worked up, even if the person’s intention is not to attack me. It is a built in coping and defense mechanism.
  5. I wish people knew that there is a gray area. Mental illness is not black and white. Yes there are a lot of bad days, but we can also have good days where we genuinely are okay. And, on the days we are okay, that does not immediately mean we are healed! 
  6. Communicating my needs can be really hard. As I said, a lot of the time I am too anxious to say things out loud. Sometimes I feel like no matter how hard I try to explain my anxiety and depression to people, using both research and my own lived experience, people still find a way to invalidate me and say “no it’s not from mental health, you’re just lazy” or “you can’t blame your actions on your trauma” when really, trauma rewired my brain. Trauma DOES change the way you think and act. I am not just using it as an excuse and you want to know why I say that? Because I actually acknowledge it, I have done lots of therapy to try and work on things, and when I notice it happening, I am aware of it and I do try to do something about it. I promise I am not just some asshole. And while I have worked on it so much and I have gotten a lot better where it does not control my life, there are still times where it becomes too much and I cannot control it.
  7. People saying they want to kill themselves is not for attention. Do you really think that is the kind of attention a depressed person wants? Take it seriously. Most of the times I did actually tell someone (which is not something a lot of people will do, myself included, because they’re afraid of getting sent to inpatient), it was because I was actively thinking of doing it and planning it in my head. A cry for help is a lot different than doing it for attention.

If you liked this post, listen to our podcast Things We Wish People Knew About Mental Health where three peers share what they wish people knew!

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