Mental health is a difficult topic to understand, even those of us who are going through it are learning every day. I thought today I would share with you the top 5 misconceptions that I have encountered with my mental health problems.
It’s okay not to understand mental health completely but the misconceptions below demonstrate people’s sheer ignorance – please don’t be like these people.
Once you’ve been sick you’ll realise there’s nothing wrong with it
As a sufferer of emetophobia I am terrified of vomiting or seeing others vomit (you can read more about it here). I often have people tell me that once I’ve experienced it, I will be okay because it’s ‘not as bad as I think it is’.
I agree that the actual experience isn’t as bad as the anxiety, however the experience does not automatically flip the switch in my brain. Since having norovrius a year ago my anxiety and phobia has been at its worst. So to all those people out there who don’t understand emetophobia, please don’t tell someone that being sick will instantly cure them.
Phobias often have their roots in irrational fears and unfortunately rationalising these fears does not automatically make you okay.
You’ve done it before so you can do it again
This misconception really annoys me. Sometimes I go through hell and back with my anxiety to get myself through a situation. Because I do get myself through it everyone automatically assumes that I’ll just do it again.
Please understand the horror of the experience that I go through and do not just tell me I’ve done it before so I can do it again – it’s not helpful, nor is it very supportive. I find this often also places addition pressure on myself to be okay when I’m really not.
I appreciate that people believe in me, however I would rather they understand how I am feeling and encourage me in other ways.
Lately I’ve been saying no to a lot more things. If something is going to make me anxious or unhappy then I am much less likely to do it. Because of this I’m often perceived as being lazy. I wish I felt in a position to say yes to everyone and fill my days with endless activities, however I just don’t feel well enough.
I fight my anxiety every second of every day so on those days where I decide not to put myself through anymore please don’t accuse me of being lazy.
Laziness is often a misconception associated with depression. I know when my mental health was at its worst almost a year ago I didn’t even want to get out of bed. I didn’t see the point. A lot of people just branded me as lazy rather than trying to provide me with the help and support that I so desperately needed.
This is somewhat similar to the misconception that I have mentioned above. On days where I don’t want to confront my mental health I’ve been told that I’m weak and I need to keep fighting against it. I do fight, everyday. Sometimes I need a break because I am physically and mentally exhausted and being told that I’m weak for wanting this is really hurtful.
I’m far from weak, every day I confront my fears. Just because my fears are different from yours does not mean that they are invalid.
I am strong.
You can choose to be okay
I’ve come across the misconception that mental health is a choice and that I can just wake up some days and choose to be okay. Trust me, if this was an option then I would have made this choice many many years ago.
Mental health is not a choice, it is a form of illness that should not be treated any differently from a physical illness.
Let me know which misconceptions you’ve come across in regards to your own mental health problems.