Mental Illness is not Fashionable

I’d like to think the title is pretty self-explanatory. I mean, I’ve seen this message spanning across all types of social media and I’m glad to see that people are able to receive this message. Yet I don’t think it’s being drilled in enough as it should be.

There are people still out there with the silly notion that having a mental illness will lead to something more, whether it be your personality, your creativity, or even your social life. That having a mental illness makes you interesting. People still don’t understand the debilitating effect mental illness can have on you in all aspects.

I don’t think it is understood that feeling of being up for hours trying to sleep. That feeling of not remembering when you last fell asleep without crying or worrying incessantly about every aspect of your life, even more so that time you may have said something embarrassing several years ago. Or the few hours’ sleep you do get, how exhausted you are when you wake. Is there anything smart about that?

Or how about when your relationships come under strain? You start to question whether any of them are your friends at all. When you want to spend all your time alone, why would you want to go out and meet with friends? Then if you do go out, you get overwhelmed, anxiety-ridden, and even have a panic attack. If you’re lucky, you have friends who understand and try to work through this with you. If you’re not, you have friends that grow frustrated, question whether there really is something wrong, forget, mock, or just don’t bother with you. Because that’s something that everyone wants, isn’t it?

There’s nothing romantic about panic attacks. There’s nothing romantic about cutting yourself to feel pain. There’s nothing romantic about sticking your fingers down your throat and feeling your throat burn for days after. And there is nothing romantic about wanting to die.

People can question you and most of all, you question yourself. Your whole existence is one big question mark. Your self-esteem is at your lowest and you’re too stupid, too fat, too annoying, too ugly. No caring, quirky, metaphorical white boy is there to turn around and be there for you always. John Green lied. And you’re lying to yourself.

There was nothing amazing about sitting in the bathroom, trying not to let people hear me cry for hours, or the long scratch marks across my legs and forearms. There was nothing glamorous about leaning over the toilet and emptying my stomach until it ached. There was nothing inspiring by the way I didn’t move for hours on end and my mind and emotions were a complete blank.

So it’s time to stop pretending you have something wrong with you, whether through attention or ignorance. People like to protest mental illness when it suits them and they don’t want to do their homework, but when it’s a real crippling illness, people suddenly aren’t as interested. I mean, who cares about people who are mentally disturbed? Right?

Be kinder to those who struggle and educate yourself. People with mental illness don’t need you ignoring them when they’re trying to ignore themselves. Mental illness is not a fashion accessory but a real issue. So starting treating it as such.

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Some Things You Need to Know- Emotion

It’s been a while since I last wrote on here and for that, I apologise. It’s partly due to being busy and partly due to not being able to find the website that helped me find a detailed list of Asperger’s’ characteristics. I’ve found it now so it’s fine.

This post is about the emotions of people who have Asperger’s syndrome. These characteristics are easy for me to write about as I relate to them all on some level. One of the main reasons that I was questioned for Asperger’s was because my counsellor noticed that my mood patterns were similar to those who have autism. My moods were very level and I often didn’t feel anything. When I did, it went from extreme sadness and anger to extreme excitement, depending on the situation. There was no in-between. This is an indicator of Asperger’s. Not all the time, as it can be an indicator of other things, but usually.

For those with ASD, rage, anger, and hurt may be expressed in unexpected ways. Well, I have a lot of anger issues, that’s for sure, and pretty much anyone that knows me can testify. Like others, I will leave it to build until I suddenly snap. I don’t think anybody outside of my home has seen any of my unexpected outbursts, which is good, and I hope it stays that way. One time, my dad cooked me dinner earlier than my usual time. It was thoughtful of him but all I could think of was that he hadn’t cooked in my usual time scale. That upset me greatly. So I may have yelled at him, gone in my room, and not gone back downstairs. Over something as simple as my food prepared earlier than usual. That is part of my Asperger’s. When it happens, it’s strange to me because it doesn’t register that I’m behaving the way I do and it isn’t until afterwards that I realise it was wrong. It’s very much a black out moment.

Perfectionism. Now, this isn’t a word that people would normally associate with me but if you’re looking for it, God’s in the detail. One issue that I’ve always had is that I never hand in my work because I never think it’s good enough. This was a big problem in A-Level. Not so much anymore. Mainly because I have to give my work in at uni, else I will fail. I will forever be re-writing my work yet it is never good enough. There are other examples but we could be here for a while, so let’s leave it there.

Another example of emotion is being easily overstimulated by sound, crowds, lights, and smells. This is probably one of the worst ones of all for me, particularly being at uni. People find me very boring but in all honesty, I couldn’t care less. A certain type of sound, smell, feeling or lighting can make me incredibly anxious and on some occasions, nearly inconsolable. I turned up to a birthday party once and we were standing in the garden. The music and the talking was too loud so I left and cried. When I came back, I asked the DJ if he could the music down slightly. I mean, honestly, only slightly and it was still pretty loud. Everyone kept on telling me I was being boring and that at my age, I should enjoy loud music. Well, I don’t quite frankly. This kind of overstimulation can stop me from leaving my room and socialising. A lot of people can also mistake me for being lazy when it comes to staying in my room, but it’s mainly because I haven’t got the energy to leave.

Lastly, another common example is an inside feeling not matching outside behaviour. Apparently, I either give off a very calm or rigid demeanour. This can usually be quite common for anyone with ASD. However, this was a big problem for me in the past because I would be having a panic attack and nobody would notice. When I’m really bothered by something, that’s usually when someone doesn’t notice. People only ask if something is wrong when I’m fine, mainly because I look constantly annoyed or angry. When I am anxious, I usually brush my fingers with my thumbs or hum lowly to myself, which is not something that people will normally pick up. Therefore, people are quick to assume that I am fine.