A few weeks ago I wrote a piece on friendship and how some may not be worth the time and effort. A few days ago I publicly shared my struggles with my mental health specifically my anxiety, after months of contemplation and confidence building. Anxiety in my case leads to me isolate myself from the world. I withdraw completely and stop doing the things I love the most. I stay where I feel safe and that is within the familiar confines of my home. I do not read. I do not talk to anyone except my husband and kids. I do not even check my phone for messages or answer any calls and I completely stop using my social media. This is good for me as it allows me time to come to terms with how I feel, or at least I can attempt to. Doing this also has its negative effects because when I overthink I find myself feeling lost and extremely lonely. Talking about my battles has been an immense struggle. It is not a decision I came to lightly because I know the prejudice and judgement that exist within our society all too well.
Being of mixed race I know what prejudice looks like and having a mental illness is no different. You face prejudice and judgement constantly regardless of ethnicity or race, age or gender. I opened up about my mental health condition under a pseudonym, but someone I worked with years ago and who I considered a friend figured out that I am the author and maybe others have too without stating they know.
A few days ago I decided to scroll through my social media contemplating whether I should open up about my blog. I must add that at this point I had no idea that the person figured it out at all. As I was scrolling through my social media I came upon a post left by the person who was meant to be my friend laughing and joking about mental health and stating that depression is an excuse used by women looking for attention. The person continued to use me as an example. I was horrified!! The comments left by the persons’ followers I will leave to your imagination, as I won’t repeat it. It left me in shock. The things said about those suffering with mental health related conditions were so appalling I couldn’t read it without feeling sick with anger. Again this proved the prejudice and judgement that exists within not just society but also in our social groupings. This person was meant to be my friend and openly made fun of mental health conditions and more specifically my personal battle.
My decision was made clear: This friendship is no longer for me. I consider myself a mental health advocate and after several attempts at trying to convince this person that it is not attention seeking I realised that sometimes some people are so set in their ways they just do not care. It saddened me because I thought ( maybe naively on my part) that once the person heard my story and the dark days I have experienced they may change their mind, but my efforts were to no avail. All I can do now is hope that someday their judgement and prejudice will come to an end. For now the best thing I can do for the sake of my own mental wellbeing is to remove myself from the friendship. Yes maybe sticking with the person and continuing to educate the person may help break the stigma, but right now I am not strong enough to fight my daily battle and trying to educate a friend who refuses to see otherwise. Maybe one day I’ll be strong enough to educate someone like this friend, but right now my mental wellbeing is more important. I know my limits and I know what I am capable of and this one is beyond me. So for now taking a step back and distancing myself from this friend will be better for my healing than having to deal with some very derogatory and ignorant comments about people with mental health disorders.
My condition does not define me nor does it define anyone else suffering with other forms of mental ill health. To me it is no joke and poking fun at mental health conditions in my opinion is of poor taste. Our condition may not be visible to the naked eye, but it’s still important to show some form of respect and attempt to understand how hurtful some things may be. I will continue in with my fight against my anxiety and I will beat it and if it means loosing friends along the way than so be it. As the saying goes:”those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind” My battles continues and I am determined to come out the other end as the victor. Although I have publicly, in person and on my private social media pages, opened up about my battles I am yet to reveal myself as the author of this blog. As I know I am still a work in progress and not yet strong enough I will continue to blog under my pseudonym until such a time where I feel strong enough to share it. It saddened me to know that some of my friends would be so disparaging towards those with mental ill health, but it is the reality we live in and I for one would much rather know who are for me and who are not.
Throughout my journey I am learning my own worth and strength and I am worthy of friends who will be equally loyal and supportive of me as I am of them so cutting ties with some people my be necessary. I hold no grudges and I can honestly say that I wish them the best, but for now I have to do the selfish thing and walk away. Selfish because I could try stick around and educate them or I can put self care first. I am putting myself first.