Mental illness is viewed by a lot of people as a choice or that somehow we caused these conditions. A choice to be sad for attention, a choice to feel anxious so we don’t have to go, a choice to not eat out of vanity, a choice to overthink memories or a choice to have too many feelings. When you think about it, it sounds quite silly. Anyone who has been diagnosed with a mental illness probably isn’t just “making up their symptoms” nobody would want to have to explain their illness or be under so much scrutiny on purpose.
Why Anxiety is NOT a choice
First of all, I would never choose to have anxiety. I would never choose to overthink things constantly. I would never choose to think that my friends, family and coworkers don’t like me. I would never choose to pick my nails until they bled or pull my own hair out. When my anxiety is really high, I google symptoms of diseases that I think I could have. I don’t even feel comfortable sharing what the diseases are in fear that it will send me into a google spree. I will spend hours on my phone and comparing things on my body to the symptoms online. Yes, I am aware this is called hypochondria .Yes, I should probably get formally diagnosed but… thinking I have hypochondria is just a hallmark symptom of having hypochondria is ..right? Lol) This is not a choice condition. This is something that I work through and that is difficult every day.
Why PTSD is NOT a choice
Second of all, I would never choose to have PTSD. I would never choose to remember painful and traumatizing events like they happened yesterday. I would never choose to not trust anyone. I would never choose to live in constant fear that the same thing will happen to my daughter. I would never choose to be numb in sexual situations. I would never choose to fill out a job application and under “do you have a disability” question whether or not my diagnosis qualifies (It does, but I still don’t feel comfortable checking Yes. I will write more about that later) These unwanted graphic thoughts, behaviors and obsessions don’t add value, peace or happiness to my life. These are the things that haunt me. This is not my choice.
Why Panic Disorder is NOT a choice
Lastly (maybe), I would never choose to have panic disorder. Panic Disorder is probably the most bothersome of all. I find the physical symptoms to be the worst part. I feel like I can’t breathe. My heart starts racing. I sweat. My hands get clammy. I stare off into almost a trance. I can’t focus on anything except whatever the thing is I am panicking over. I try to hide it most of the time or I leave the situation to be alone. When people try to talk to me when I am in this state, I get hostile or irritable. Does this sound like a choice? Do you think I want to “overreact”? No. It’s awful and I have to work through it everyday.
When Your Mental Health Condition Isn’t Believed
One of the more challenging aspects of my life right now is dealing with people in my life who choose not to believe science, doctors or even ME about MY mental health. If you’re interested to read more about this check out my post on gaslighting.
Not being believed can lead to a whole slew of issues and I think this post does a great job of detailing who, what, when, where and why! When Your Loved Ones Don’t Believe In Mental Illness
Check out this video from Natasha Tracy, Bipolar Burble
Not being believed & gaslighting, summed up in a screenshot:
THIS is why I started blogging and why am I so outspoken about mental health. The thing is, I have a personal experience and I want to share it. I want other’s going through something similar to feel normal. I want other people to feel inspired to speak up and realize it will get better. I want people to understand that cutting out people in their life that are NOTHING but toxic is totally okay. I want people to understand that taking medication is OK and when people claim to be “worried about you” because you are finally happier and taking mediation prescribed to you, let it roll off your back.