A Personal Account of Mental Illness & What You Need to Remember

Girl looking out to the ocean watching the waves at Cape Schanck

Mental illness is paralysing. The weight of your thoughts can anchor you to the ground. I know this because I’ve experienced it. Every now and then, it will resurface, preying on moments of vulnerability. It leeches onto your negative thoughts and provokes a vicious cycle of misery. 

You feel as though your problems are insignificant and your tears are unjustified. Your attempt to identify the core issue spurring on this erratic onslaught of emotion involves compiling a destructive list of anything remotely negative, a tactic employed to justify this seemingly irrational state. Of course, misery breeds misery and before you know it, you’re swimming in a deep sea of dangerous thoughts. You need to know that you’re not alone.

You are not alone in battle

Non-profit organisations such as Beyond Blue, Headspace, and R U OKAY are working tirelessly to eradicate the stigma attached to mental illness and break down the walls for the 3 million Australians who suffer from depression and anxiety. You are not alone in this battle. You feel alone and lost and disconnected and a whole string of other inexplicable emotions, but you need to remember that there is a mammoth ecosystem of support available to you. Don’t allow your genetically embedded streak of pride to sit between you and the rest of your life. In spite of your preconceptions, asking for help demonstrates strength, not weakness, remember that.

The light at the end of the tunnel

You may not be able to see it right now, but you will get through this. You will survive this suffocating phase and you’ll reflect on this chapter of your life. Initially, you may be tempted to strike this period from your memory because it triggers flashbacks to some of the most painful and vulnerable moments of your life, but you’ll eventually realise that it is a testament to your inner strength and ability to conquer life’s adversities. Friedrich Nietzsche speaks the truth – ‘That which does not kill us makes us stronger.’

Leverage the power of conversation

Your reluctance to open up may stem from a culmination of factors – denial, sheer embarrassment, pride, an inability to articulate your thoughts, the list goes on. Although baring your soul can be petrifying, it’s impossible to gain perspective when you’re consumed by toxic thoughts. Burying your feelings, though instinctive, only obstructs your path to recovery. Finding the courage to talk about your battle is easier said than done, but a daily dose of perspective and support will help ease your pain. Never underestimate the power of conversation, regardless of which side of the table you sit on.

Invincibility fuels destruction

Nobody is invincible and believing that you are is incredibly foolish. Treating yourself like a machine is unsustainable, it is a flawed philosophy which fuels self-destruction. If you have already been down this beaten path, you’ll know how the story ends. If you are feeling fragile, but still leeching on to this philosophy, you need to reevaluate your logic, take a timeout and nurse your fragile state before it spirals out of control. The longer you prolong this invincibility charade, the further you will fall. 

Curling up in the foetal position, resenting the world and your existence, shedding tears of anger, frustration, confusion and sadness – some days are a blatant write-off, but you should never feel guilty for pressing the pause button and prioritising your mental wellbeing. Just remember, you are not alone in this, you are strong and resilient and with the support of a wider ecosystem, you will survive this seemingly endless rough patch and you will go on to enjoy the bright future that lies ahead of you.



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