Whenever I’m not okay, I almost always look and sound like I am.
The confusion is likely furthered by the fact that when I’m at my best, I’m still wearing all black and moping around listening to The Cure, blaring Disintegration and praying for rain at a first promising clap of thunder. I suppose it’s all very misleading!
One of the worst things about mental illness is that it often falls into the “invisible illness” category. Since you don’t have on a cast, your inner torment is nonexistent, even farcical, to some.
Laughing about my afflictions is how I mask, cope, and survive. Even when I’m sparkling around others, my thoughts could very well be, and often are, in a sinister place. I’m not trying to venture into reportage, don’t worry, but in December 2018 CNN posted an article about “the sad clown” concept and comedians suffering clinical depression. A lot of the ideas presented resonate.
In lieu of a suicidal ideation blindside, my psychiatrist has instructed me to inform my loved ones by saying something to the effect of “My face and tone of voice seem okay, but I’m not okay.” That way, we can then work together to find an appropriate immediate action, a treatment plan to move forward, and a way to normalize communication via my mental health in future.
For me, and perhaps others, the humility involved in admitting mental weakness and the need for help is tremendous. My pride has, quite literally, almost killed me.
To actively normalize and destigmatize mental illness and conversations surrounding it, we must open ourselves to reinvented ways to communicate our mental states. The more we talk about it, the more people with mental illness will feel comfortable getting help when they need it, and people who don’t understand mental illness will begin to be better informed. Hopefully.
This whole process requires mercy and patience on everyone’s behalf, but these conversations are vital. In terms of helpful conversation, another way to support your loved one on with mental illness is to not assume well-being.
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If you or someone you know needs help right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.