Shattering Stigmas – My story with mental health

Happy Friday, friends!  And welcome back to another day in the lovely Shattering Stigmas event. In case you missed it, Shattering Stigmas is an event that will take place from October 6th to October 20th here on Drizzle & Hurricane Books.

Three years ago, Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight launched the first Shattering Stigmas, a blogging event dedicated to posts about mental illness to address and challenge the stigmas against it. Through book reviews, discussion posts and lists, Shattering Stigmas has continued conversations around mental illness for the past three years.

This year, for the Shattering Stigmas 4.0, you will be able to find incredible guest posts on blogs from all four hosts of the event: Taylor, Ben, Madalyn, Kitty and Marie.

You can also enter our INTERNATIONAL (Book Depository) giveaway! TWO winners will be able to win the Mental Health book of their choice at the end of this event. Don’t forget to ENTER HERE!

It is my honor today to share a guest blog post, written by the incredible Clara, about her story with mental health. I’ve been loving all of the submissions and everything I have shared and will be sharing on the blog, but Clara’s blog post particularily moved me. I hope you’ll love it as much as I did and feel free to share your thoughts in comments!

Trigger warnings: this post deals with anxiety, eating disorders, OCD and suicidal thoughts.

My name is Clara, I am almost 23 years old and I suffer from many, many things. Besides being diabetic I have been diagnosed with cyclothymic disorders and anxiety when I was 18, and recently learned about my eating disorder and OCD. I am always a tad embarrassed to put all those big words next to each other and to say it out loud. Most people think that I’m joking and that I’m exaggerating. Even worst, as soon as those words leave my mouth people look at me and start seeing me differently, picturing me in a way they believe I must be if I suffer from all those things.

I suffer from an eating disorder? But I’m not skinny or fat.

I have anxiety? But I have a job and am on social media.

I have OCD? But my room isn’t neat clean.

I tried to kill myself and still have suicidal thoughts? But I smile and laugh and look happy.

And all those ideas people keep having on their minds about how I should be, end up in books too. Recently an author contacted me because I talk about mental health a lot on social media and because she has just finished writing a book about depression and bulimia. I picked it up immediately, full of hope. In the end it was the worst mental health representation I have ever read, and it hurt a lot.

Suffering from bulimia doesn’t only mean making yourself throw up and binge eating. It also means being unable to see yourself in a mirror and being obsessed with your weight. It means not eating also, sometimes for several days, and exhausting yourself by working out one or two hours each night just to see if you look better. It’s being convinced that you are shaped differently than you really are and thinking about food all the time. It’s thinking that you are weird, that you are failing at life and much more. And that doesn’t stop to bulimia – having anxiety doesn’t mean you are awkward just like having OCD doesn’t mean you have to be obsessed with how clean everything is. Actually it isn’t even like that for everyone – we are all unique and our illnesses are different to every single one of us.

But stigma hurt. Bad representation hurt. It isn’t something new – a lot of people fight for good representation in literature, especially poc and marginalized people who deserve to feel included in what they read about. And that’s what stigma feels like: it makes you feel as if you are a freak, as if you aren’t normal and as if you shouldn’t be included in anything. People see you and think they know you just because you told them about your mental illness. I can’t count the number of people who told me to stop being dramatic, to just smile and that everything will be okay. Because sick people are lazy, didn’t you know that? Everyone keep thinking that depression can be cured if you try harder, if you just stay positive… Well, it’s wrong.

Once, someone told me to stop, that it was all in my head. I went crazy, and thought about this famous quote in the Harry Potter series: “Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”. That’s the thing with mental health and all those illnesses. It is happening in my head, everything that I hear or think may be wrong, there aren’t even real, but I still hear it, I still think it and that is very real. It’s not because people can’t see it that it doesn’t make it true, and I wish more people would understand that.

As I said many people left me because of my mental health. Sometimes I understood it – not everyone can deal with it and everyone deserves to protect themselves. Sometimes I didn’t – mental illnesses should never be an excuse for you to be mean, but people shouldn’t use them to make you feel bad as well. I have been told and told again that I was too negative and dramatic because I kept tweeting when I was having a panic attack or had suicidal thoughts. They kept making me feel as if I was a monster because I was always complaining and because I couldn’t go out without having someone near me. And just like everyone they told me that I wasn’t trying hard enough, as if suffering from anxiety is like having a cold and that it should pass after a few days.

As I am writing this I feel overwhelmed with all the things I wish I could say. I want to talk about how annoyed I am that people think anxiety is so common because of social media, when actually I had my first panic attack when I was a child. We put the blame too easily on the Internet. I want to talk more about those people who judged me and those who left me, the ones who told me I was a freak and the ones who told me I was a sl*t. I want to keep talking about bad representation and how it hurts. There is too much to say when talking about stigma and mental health. Yet I have to stop somewhere.

I don’t know if it all made sense. I don’t know if what I want to say is even clear in here. What I really wanted to tell you today is that I am sorry if you suffer from anything and people can’t understand it, and that if you don’t suffer from anything then please try to remember that it’s not because you can’t see it that it isn’t real. If one of your friends need to stay in bed and have to cancel your plans together, then trust me, they are sorry but they really can’t make it and you really shouldn’t make them feel bad. They tried. They are always trying, always fighting. You could help by only saying, “I understand, know that I am here for you if needed”. That’s already a lot.

To anyone fighting every day: I love you, you got this and you make a huge difference in the world.

Clara

Find Clara on : Instagram | Twitter | Goodreads | Blog

Posted by

Book blogger, travel blogger, writer. 📚 |🌍 | 💞 Writing & Communications Graduate. French. Living on love, wanderlust and ya books.

30 thoughts on “Shattering Stigmas – My story with mental health

  1. OMG! This article gave me chills. It is beautifully written Clara and thank you for sharing your feelings. It beoke my heart and so sorry that tou had to face so much.
    I guess I have been normal for most of my life. The books like Turtles All the Way Down made me aware of OCD and other mental illness. I am happy that I am always able to connect to people. Your post is written so well that I was able to connect with you and I want to give you loads of hug 🤗 And lots of love, Clara ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am glad that you talk about the misrepresentation of mental illnesses, you got me to rethink how I treat people who suffer from it. I don´t analyze whether or not they match the criteria of the illness represented in the media but I also don´t show them that I know their intention is not to hurt me, their actions are a result of their struggles.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Well Clara this is very courageous! And totally true! Having seen my aunt battling with bulimia and the anorexia, my husband with depression I can say that what you stated above are exactly how hard it is! Thank you for enlightening us and I hope you’ll have more bright than dark days!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for sharing this * hugs *
    Mental illness affects people in different ways, and people who know nothing about them (or not enough) expect it’s like the common cold that has certain symptoms and everyone pretty much feels the same way about them :/

    Liked by 1 person

  5. oh my goodness. this is without a doubt one of the best posts i’ve ever read about anxiety. i struggle with it myself, and let me tell you people react just like Clara explained it all. there seem to be a common mistake of anxiety. so many of my friends think it’s because i’m too much into instagram or blogging. NO! it has absolutely nothing to do with that, in fact blogging is one of the things (except my therapist) which helps me the most. all in all an absolute wonderful post xxx <33

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for sharing these thoughts with us Clara (and Marie for hosting the event!).
    Out of all the great quotes by Dumbledore from the Harry Potter saga, the one you comment here has always been by fare my favorite and I think about it very often. People often have a hard time relating to other people’s feelings and pains (whether physical or mental). They live through their own prism (“If I can do that simply, everyone can”). They are blinded by their own sense of superiority because life seems easy for them. They don’t overthink, they don’t have trust issues, they don’t get so anxious that it becomes painful. They can’t get it because they have never had to live it. This is why literature is so important in my opinion : to help us relate to other people’s feelings and point of view, and to understand that we are not alone, after all.

    Thank you SO MUCH for this post Clara and, for helping people get aware on Social Media. And, if no one have told you yet today: I love you and you got this 💛 I’m here if you ever need ✨

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thanks Clara for sharing your story. ❤️❤️ The stigma attached to mental health staggers me. I think many suffer silently and that is heartbreaking! Being told you brought it on yourself and to just stop it must be overwhelming. Thanks for being willing to shed some light and vulnerablility on the subject.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I have recently found out I have OCD too and now so many things make sense. And lol yes my room is SO not clean. Not that I’m not obsessively blaming myself for being an awful person because it’s not clean. I can relate to the “smile and look happy” thing on a deep level. As for anxiety, it’s ridiculous that they’d think we couldn’t hold down a job. Anxiety and performance don’t have anything to do with each other. It’s what you do to yourself AFTER performing is what anxiety is all about :/

    I can also relate to the whole “dramatic” thing. Been told that so many times indeed. Many people left me for these reasons as well. But I can’t blame them. I still kind of believe it’s my fault, although I don’t know if I’d leave someone else for these reasons. All of these things they say eventually morph into this quiet anger at yourself that you just have to keep living with. I wish I could be angry at them – but for some reason, I am mostly just angry at myself for being the way I am and not being able to change it.

    Thanks for this post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I felt so good when I found out about my OCD – everything started to make sense in my life again!
      People are so quick to assume that they know everything better than anyone else.
      Here is your reminder: if people leave you then it’s none of your fault. Really. Some people leave and it’s for the best, it means we don’t need them. You don’t need more negativity in your life. I am sending you tons of love!
      – Clara

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Thank you for sharing your story, Clara. The right representation matters so much because we are still constantly fighting against this stigma. I always reach for that Dumbledore quote myself in times of trouble. Or when I’m feeling more petty, “Well, of course it’s in my head, it’s a mental illness. Where else would it be, my ass?” Some days… :o)

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Hey Clara! That’s an amazing post and sooo relatable.. I have had anxiety since I was 11, and each time I told my mom about it, she’d tell me to stop overthinking. But, it was what I was experiencing and when I had nobody to share it with, I would think it up in my head. It’s not so easy to just stop thinking about it! But now it’s better and I’m also feeling great!
    Can you write more such posts? It’s really very helpful! ❤️
    Xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi! I’m Marie, the owner of this blog 🙂 I’ll let Clara answer to your comment in details, but if you’re interested in more blog posts about mental health, I suggest you check out all of the blog post of this Shattering Stigmas event right here : https://aceofbens.com/shattering-stigmas-4-0/ .
      And you can find Clara and all of her incredible content and blog posts by following the links at the end of the blog post you just read 🙂
      Thank you! ❤

      Like

  11. Hi Clara,

    I think it is really interesting and important what you said at the beginning about people not being convinced of your mental illness or disorders because it doesn’t ‘look’ like you have them or you don’t ‘act’ a certain way. That is definitely an idea that needs to be changed and altered! A lot of disorders and mental illnesses are invisible, or appear invisible to people who don’t know you well enough and you shouldn’t feel like you need to explain yourself at all.

    I am sorry for all the bad representation you have to read. I can understand how that would hurt and I only hope as people understand and become more aware, the representation will get better and better.

    Liked by 1 person

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