Mental Health Awareness Month: Guest Post from Annika at Hiding Books

MHAM

I can’t believe May is almost over already.  I have another guest post for you all today for Mental Health Awareness Month. This one is from Annika over at Hiding Books. Annika is sharing her personal experience with mental health, and some common misconceptions about depression.  Thank you Annika for sharing your story!

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Growing up I was a pretty anxious child – my social anxiety was pretty bad. I was skipping school as soon as I started. Things got even worse as I grew up and somehow, during my second year of high school I went from occasionally skipping class to never attending class. I stopped texting my friends. I stopped going outside. I stopped getting out of bed, eating, sleeping at normal times, talking to people. Then I stopped crying.

I stopped everything.

The thing is I didn’t even realise something was really very wrong. It took my mother forcing me to the doctor’s and them waiting for my slow responses to their questions, them wanting to put me in the hospital, for me to understand how sick I was. I remember a psychiatrist asking me if I wanted to harm myself, or if I wanted to die, and I was shocked. It had never even entered my mind.

Months later I started to get a little bit better, enough to realise I had depression. It sank in, and I felt ashamed and guilty, and just so horrible for everything I was putting my family through.

That sounds like a horrible story, and it is. It’s also completely true, which is why I never share it with people. But there are a few things I’d like to discuss related to depression, so we’re tackling a few misconceptions some people have – these are based on things I’ve actually heard people say.

  1. How does something like this happen? How does a person let this happen to themselves?
  2. There’s no easy answer, but depression is a disease. It affects you physically. A person should never have to feel like it’s their fault that they have a horrible disease that prevents them from living their life. It’s not something they’ve done to themselves and it’s not something they can just change.
  3. Being depressed basically means being sad all the time, right?Nope. At least for me, it mostly means not feeling anything. No sadness, no happiness, not caring about anything. It’s actually a lot more terrifying than being sad. You can’t even be scared because you just can’t feel.
  4. Can’t you just decide to get better like person XYZ in that book/film/article?That’s really not how it works. Depression is related to the biochemistry of your body. You can’t decide to change your biochemistry. I take issue with any character or person talking about how they “decided to get out of depression.”
  5. But you’re always laughing – you seem so happy. Are you sure you have depression?Yes, I’m sure. I’m basically just a phenomenal actress.
  6. But my uncle’s friend’s daughter’s boyfriend’s cat had depression and they behaved completely differently from you?
  7. That’s not really a question but there are so many different types of depression, you can’t even take my word for it and say ‘this is what depression is like.’ Everyone experiences it differently.
  8. So how can you actually get better?By going to the doctor. By taking your medication. By talking to (preferably) a professional who understands the disease affecting you. By understanding you’re suffering from a disease and that it is not your fault. These are surprisingly difficult things to do.

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Please keep in mind that everyone experiences their mental illness and/or mental health struggles in different ways. One person’s experiences may be different from someone else coping with the same diagnosis. 

The views, opinions and positions expressed in guest posts are those of the author alone and do not necessarily represent the views, opinions, and positions of Book Stacks Amber. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. Copyright remains with the author and any liability with regard to infringement of intellectual property rights remain with them.

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