The person behind the illness.

Photo by Alex Iby on Unsplash

If you read my blog “The end of a year, the start of a new me” you will know that for the last year I have kept my blog pretty quiet.
I mentioned briefly some of the reasoning behind that decision, but I wanted to take the opportunity to explain a little more as to why I kept my identity anonymous for so long.

There still remains a stigma that follows you around if you have any type of mental health illness, it’s getting better but definitely still felt by most.
This of course excludes the close friends and family that I have shared my Anxiety and Depression with, they have all be extremely supportive and understanding, and without them I wouldn’t be where I am today, but unfortunately that support isn’t always shown by everyone.

Below are some of the reasons I kept my Mental Health Illnesses and blog anonymous for as long as I did;

Being the topic of this week’s “gossip”

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

The idea of going to any type of social event and feeling as though all eyes are on you. Plus, something like that is likely to turn into a kind of Chinese whispers and it’s not long before you start to hear thing’s about yourself that even you didn’t know!!

People feeling sorry for me or pitying my Family and I.

I don’t want people to look at me and think “poor you”, and then look at my family and feel the same toward them. I believe it to be really un helpful, it creates awkward silences because nobody knows “The right thing to say” and it just makes people feel uncomfortable.

People assume that you are always miserable, lazy and don’t take care of yourself.

Photo by Benjamin Combs on Unsplash

This is one that I feel to be the most common assumption that people have. Because you have Anxiety and Depression you don’t know how to have fun and must be a really boring or miserable person to be around, and rarely make an effort with your appearance.

Changing the way people see me, as a friend, wife or mother.

Photo by Phil Coffman on Unsplash

This one is the biggest reason for keeping it quiet, and an extension of reason number 3. I feel that the minute someone opens up about a mental health illness it leaves you open to a whole load of judgement. Judgement around your capabilities to be a good mother or wife, and how hard it must be to live with “someone like that”
I feel like people are less likely to approach you if they know, and in turn making it really hard to make new friends.

Setting the record straight

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

Having any type of illness is going to make day to day life harder, and at times affect your ability to carry out what others would see as being basic tasks, but that can be said for anyone in any situation, everyone has off or down days, we are all human and cannot be expected to run at 100% all day every day.
I was at one point going to just except the stereotype’s and the boxed categories that I may be put into, keep my blog anonymous and just allow people to make those assumptions, but I am no longer happy to do so, I want to be a voice of reason and truth and say that that isn’t how I or others with a mental health illness are and it’s definitely not how we want to be seen.

There are day’s or even weeks of struggle but I believe I am still the best wife and mum to my children that I can be. There are days when I can’t manage the school run because the anxiety has taken control. What you see is the mum that didn’t show up, what you don’t see is the mum that fought to get out of bed and get ready to ensure the morning was un disrupted and normalised for her children, the mum that battled with the terrible thoughts about herself and the tears that followed but continued to make their packed lunch. The mum that tied their laces and did their hair despite feeling like she isn’t good enough for this world. The mum that feels her entire body fill with guilt as she watches as someone else takes her children to school, not for a good reason like because she has to go to work but because she fears unrealistic fear, that at times can be so crippling she feels like she can’t breathe, depression that makes her feel so bad that she can barely look at herself in the mirror.
No one see’s the fight that goes on behind close doors, they just see what they believe to be some one that lets others down, some one that can’t be bothered to show up. I am here to say that there isn’t a person that tries more than someone that has any type of illness, whether it physical or mental.

Every day is just another day you try to get through, you try to meet the expectations of society. Some days you just can’t manage it and other day’s……. you smash it!
You get up and you take your children to school, you make the trip to the supermarket and you write a blog to help others who need to hear they are doing great. You tell them that there is absolutely no shame in having a mental health illness, in fact it’s the complete opposite.

You are one of the many warriors of our world, you are strong, you are kind, you are doing your best and that my friend is amazing!!
It makes you nothing like any of the stereotype’s that are out there, it gives you the strength to smash through all those boxes that you get put into and it allows you the opportunity to prove most importantly to yourself that you are just as worthy , just as awesome and just as great as any another person out there.

This is me

I am not defined by my illness, Yes, I Have Anxiety and Depression but;

• I am not boring or miserable, I love life and love to laugh and have fun.
• I am not a bad mum or wife; I love them with every ounce of my being and will always do the best I can for them.
• I sometimes struggle and have to let people down, but it’s never done because I can’t be bothered or because I don’t care, the reason most of the time is because I care too much.

I have always raised both my girls to be strong and to care more about what they think of themselves rather than worry about the opinions of others. This message has always been so important for me to share with them, because unfortunately I have spent the last 30 years of my life doing the complete opposite, and if I’m honest trying to live up to the expectations of other’s is draining and unrealistic. It never allows you the opportunity to become your true self, realise your own potential and fulfil your own dreams and passions in life. After spending the last 3 years fearing what others think of me and the illness I live with, I have finally decided to take my own advice and start caring more about my self than I do the opinions of others.

There will always be people that make those assumptions, we are never going to be able to change everyone’s perspective, but we must remember that there are so many more people that don’t think like that, people that want to help, love and support us.
I want to share this message of positivity and hope to those of you that need it and help you to see the warriors that you truly are.

Share a smile not a judgment
Lead with kindness

I would like to end this blog by giving a shout out and huge thank you to the wonderful Mental Health Charity Chasing the stigma, for all their hard work in raising awareness. They are an amazing charity with such an important message, please take a look at their website and show your support.

Published by A Work In Progress

My name is Natalie, I am a 30 something year old wife and mum of two children and one cheeky dachshund called Winston. I am a Mental Health Blogger and aspiring motivational speaker. It was May of 2019 that I decided to set up my website A Work in Progress, to create a blog based primarily on the subject of Mental Health. I chose to call myself and my website A work in Progress because after so many years of trying to seek perfection, living with extreme Anxiety and Depression has really helped me to realise that the something I was looking for simply didn’t exist. No one is perfect nor will they ever be, we continuously evolve and grow through the different experiences we have and the hurdles we encounter, thus making perfect versions of exactly who we are at that time in our lives. The intention with my blog is to inspire other’s and help them through the tough times, whilst drawing awareness to a subject that still does not get enough attention. Over the last few years I myself have struggled with Mental Health illnesses, specifically Anxiety and Depression. I first began writing as a way of helping myself to deal with my illness. It allowed me to express how I felt in detail and in turn allowed me to process my thoughts and figure out how best to manage and deal with them. I hope to spread a little more kindness into a world that doesn’t always feel very kind. I believe it is so important to recognise the colossal impact kind words can have and remove the perception that we should aspire to be like someone else rather than be happy with who we are. I want to share my experiences with others, to show that although tough and a journey that takes time, it is possible to reach the lowest point in your life and come out the other side.

10 thoughts on “The person behind the illness.

  1. Thank you for this beautiful post! I think it is important for people to see that you’re more than just an illness. I suffered from anorexia and anxiety. A lot of people saw me as the person who hated going out and it got to the point that I was no longer invited. I wished that they would see it was a lot more than that. I am glad to be in a happier place now and I hope you’re doing well too 🙂

    Em x

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for sharing this! I know how difficult it is to share the real you with the outside world. It can be scary and liberating all at once! It took me about a year of telling my therapist I was going to start a blog, before I was comfortable enough to do it. To my huge surprised, after starting my blog and sharing it, I learned from many high school friends and family members that they too live with anxiety and depression. That they too struggle on some days. I was thanked for speaking up on it, for trying to break the stigma. I was also told by many how surprised they were I have anxiety and depression because I carry myself so well. That in itself is a misconception. People with anxiety and depression can hide it very well but we also don’t let it always interfere with our day to day lives. Some of us are high functioning while others are debilitated by the mental illness. Either way we all struggle in silence or with loved ones. We all try our best and we all beat ourselves up when we feel we have failed. You sharing your story and revealing yourself is powerful and should not be taken lightly. Thank you for being brave! Xo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your comment and for such kind words of support, it really means a lot!
      You are soo right I was absolutely petrified about posting this but at the same time felt so empowered and proud. I also felt relief that I am now free to be completely myself xx

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Amazing post and so brave of you to share this. I can definitely understand the want to keep your mental illness private. I’ve had a lot of these thoughts before. The stigma is definitely breaking down but there’s a long way to go x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your kind words of support I really appreciate it 😊
      Hopefully we can help get there with all our voices of encouragement to those who need it and at the same time provide the education to those who need it also 💚❤️


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: