What it looks like

It’s funny isn’t it; I’ve suffered with mental health issues since I was thirteen years old and I speak to hundreds of other people that do also, either through this blog or in daily life. But yet, my perceptions of it all are still wrong.

I don’t in any way recognise sufferers as being weak or expect any less from them, because I know how much strength it takes for me to go on sometimes; I think we’re the strongest people out there. To live with an illness that impacts life so much and to live with it every single day for the rest of our lives is remarkable. Sure, sometimes our illnesses can be cured or fade with age, but the majority of us just learn to manage.

I go about my normal day as though nothing is wrong. I go to university, I go to work, I see my friends, family and boyfriend. But it’s only when you look really carefully that you notice that I walk to these places. I ‘can’t be bothered’ to come out when everyone’s going to the cinema, or I’d rather see it when it comes out on DVD; because I have a fear of structured seating plans – they make me feel trapped. I can’t leave Leeds unless someone I know and trust drives, and so I find myself walking around the same streets day after day not seeing anything else. I miss lectures when they’re higher than the first floor of a building because that’s a problem also.

But if you see me walking down the street, you wouldn’t know anything’s wrong.

Yet, if I see someone else walking down the street, I still expect to see it. I wouldn’t judge them in any way, but I expect to notice that they’re not OK – which is utterly ridiculous. I have friends (both in the real world and virtually!) that have depression, bipolar, anxiety, schizophrenia – yet when I take it out of context of the people I know, I still have preconceived pictures of what these things look like.

Stigmatisation of mental illness needs to stop and I believe that more than anyone, but my question is – how do we accomplish this with people that don’t understand, if even those of us that do understand still don’t really get it?

There are so many illnesses out there, both physical and mental, that we couldn’t possibly begin to understand them all in a realistic and empathetic way. So how do we not momentarily judge someone in the street because of something they’ve just done/said? We might feel bad about it afterwards, but we still judge in the first place, no matter how much we try not to. It’s human nature.

31 thoughts on “What it looks like

  1. championsforwellness says:

    You wrote: “So how do we not momentarily judge someone in the street because of something they’ve just done/said? We might feel bad about it afterwards, but we still judge in the first place, no matter how much we try not to. It’s human nature.”

    I believe as you said, that it is human nature to jump to a judgement, but the true measure of who we are is to recognize that we are doing this, then take a moment to reflect, re-frame and practice curiousity.

    Love this post, and have enjoyed reading all the others as well! I hope you continue sharing your voice and wisdom!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. aeolianwhispers says:

    We fight stigma by being who we are and educating people so we can dispel the myths of the past. Most stigma is based on peoples preconcieved, outdated ideas of how certain mental illnesses present. Alot of the time people with mental health issues look and behave like anyone else you pass in the street … we simply need to educate people about how to respond, or what to say, if/when they notice someone having a particularly difficult time or struggling with a particular aspect of their condition. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. davesoapbox says:

    Reblogged this on davesoapbox and commented:
    A wonderfull insight into how mental illness can affect a life so easily and yet nobody really notices. Please follow this blog and support the writer. Love and peace 🙏😀❤️


  4. Loved by my Father says:

    Excellent! I think it’s ok to silently make a determination on a person in the street, mainly b’c they are a stranger – and you never know. 🙂 So I just keep it to myself. Judging is sometimes a fear or protection response to old hurts.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Matthew Malin says:

    Reading your posts really put my struggles into perspective. I certainly don’t pretend like I struggle more than others but there are others who struggle much more. Thank you so much for your honesty and strength. Don’t give up!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. anxietybug88 says:

    I don’t think there’s actually a way to fully understand it. I think what’s more important is empathy and/or sympathy. We may not be able to understand what someone is going through, but if we can feel what they feel, even just a little bit, we can better support them. We can help ourselves make them comfortable around us and around others.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Kit Dunsmore says:

    I too struggle not to judge others. One of the things I do to help me be kind is to come up with many ideas for why someone has done something. Example: if I get cut off driving, I try not to yell. Instead, I think of reasons the person might be in a hurry — like trying to get to a loved one who’s in trouble or maybe even being sick themselves. When I allow for the things that could be happening but that I can’t see, it helps me to more compassionate towards others.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. daveorionallen says:

    I fight through education, and my own empathy. If I live in my own sensitive way, others will see. I believe I’m not really all that disturbed. It is lack of education, and empathy I see as a real threat. I dread my own treatment, and being ex-military I had it pounded into me, I was weak. I’ve learned that is my greatest strength, my empathy. Very eloquent, and if you’re scared I’ll even virtually hold your hand… love -D-


  9. CC says:

    Really, really good. Sadly, I think it is those who have been through it or love someone who has that are the ones with the most understanding and compassion.
    However, the more those of us continue to write, talk, and be open about our illnesses and issues it becomes that much less invisible, provides awareness and an understanding. It also opens up that many more avenues for those of us who want or need it to network and have support. The rest is up to others to learn and open their minds.
    But that is hope. Always hope. xx


  10. SandySB says:

    One of the problems of being a creature that used to be a prey animal is that we have all kinds of innate survival instincts.
    One of these is a fear of strangers and the unknown.
    We appraise situations very rapidly to be able to fight or flee, mostly in an unconscious part of the brain.
    Hence the tendency to snap judgements – which can be surprisingly accurate if psychologists are to be believed!
    Over coming this programming, much of which we learn growing up in our community, in our family etc, is quie hard unless we can find a way to become aware of it and then to challenge it.
    This is one of the things that we get from meditation and mindfulness practice – the chance to reprogramme our unconscious sensory processing, and decision making loops – both about the world and about our selves.
    Greater compassion is one result.
    Self compassion is even better.


  11. therabbitholez says:

    I think we are very strong, but mostly because we work hard to appear like everybody else, but have often asked myself “what does that mean” your right even our own perceptions can gives us a tilted view of the world.

    It also amazes me how people never notice how you avoid certain situations, they see it as an annoyance not something you have a problem with, which in turn makes you go to further lengths to hide, it’s a vicious circle.

    Depression is not for the feint hearted!!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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