Something that no one sharing about mental health wants to talk about is how isolating it can be. They try to make it feel as though there is always going to be someone to watch over you, that a support network is amazing and comes naturally. Except, in the reality of some, like myself, it is not.
Most of your friends are not going to understand what you are going through. No matter how much you open up, how much you try to help them visualise it, it always ends in a similar way. They would not know better about how to help you.
Seeking your friends’ help is sometimes like when you are drowning in a deep pit, and all they can do at the mouth of the pit is shout down and ask “Are you Okay?” Sometimes, all they would think of you as quirky. You know, that one friend who is sometimes high, sometimes low; that one friend who can be a bit of a drag; that one friend who has suicidal thoughts sometimes.
The more you talk about your mental health, the more it seems that you have lost your marbles, because no one else feels that way. No friend wants to see you struggle, but the stigma and barriers of mental health make it so that it is so hard for them to help you. Even the ones who try always have hits and misses. Even the one who care the most have to keep struggling with you, because depression is never constant. Some days are good, and some days are really trying. The people who love you most can hurt you the most too.
My parents did not understand what I meant when I said that I have depressive episodes. They told me to get over myself and stop being so drama. I want to stop too, but it is not as simple as a flick of a switch. Sometimes that is the best they can do, because after all, they are as clueless as you. When I finally found someone who understood, I broke down in tears. I was almost incomprehensive. I was sobbing all over her. All my bottled up frustration and sadness spilled out all at once, because here was someone who understood where I was coming from. Then, almost immediately, I was reluctant to talk to her about my depression again.
It breaks my heart every time I see her because I know she is as burdened as I am. She has to bear my struggles along with her own. My head used that as fuel for the growing fire, and I hated myself more because I was abusing her with such burdens that she clearly did not sign up for. That is why mental health can be so isolating. The stigmas we have built over the years and the internalised barriers makes opening up about our struggles so hard. It constantly makes us think that we are weak because we rely on others to help us.
Even going to see a counsellor has made me feel worthless, because I cannot even stand on my own two feet without someone nursing me – Seeking help made me feel weak, not stronger. Depression has been criminalised in so many ways, that even admitting that I have it makes me feel dirty and broken.
I am always a wall away from my friends because just the act of being around them makes me think that they would get it from me too, that I would drag them down with me. Therefore, I should forever suffer alone.
It has taken me so many years to finally accept my mental health. It took me longer to find a good support structure that I can rely on. It has made me reflect on how we as a society can do better for our friends and peers who may face these struggles of not being in the norm.
I ask of you, dear reader: Break the cycle. Create supportive environments. Encourage either yourself or someone you know to seek help. Be a good supportive friend. Listen attentively, not just listen and judge them. It is the least we can do to make our friends feel safe about being human.