To nail down when the scourge of mental illness first sought me out as its prey is a near-impossible task.
Nonetheless, I have devoted a good amount of time and mental energy trying to discern an approximate time in my life where I first met this beast.
It seems clear that when I dig into my past that my dance with this devil started in childhood. It is difficult to determine my exact age but I do know that it was in late childhood. I recall it being my later childhood years because that’s when I had my first experience with therapy. When I think back on it, I have nothing but thanks and gratitude for the therapist who helps me work through my troubles.
The challenges I encountered back in those days was centred around anger issues and outbursts. I was a very angry child, was it really anger at the centre of it all? I didn’t know it then, but I would later on in life come to realize it was most likely sadness. I have always, in the deepest part of my being been attached to an inexplicable heavy feeling of despair. Who is this friend who invited themselves to accompany me along my life’s path?
Being young at the time I was not aware of what it was that was plaguing me, but over time and as I got older I came to learn that this “friend” had a name. Its name was Depression and Depression would be my buddy for life. Oddly enough, my depressive disorder was the last of my three illnesses to reveal itself despite the fact that it had a lifelong say in everything I did, and every decision I had ever made.
My anxiety disorder reared its ugly head when I was a teen and has had the biggest influence on my internal script than even my depression. It became my constantly chatty friend; that is my ever negative, scared of everything kind of friend whose toxic negatively is communicated through me like a spirit from the afterlife. Like my friend Depression, I would come to learn the name of my tag-along pal. The name you ask? Generalized Anxiety Disorder.
The day I learned the names of these so-called “friends” was like learning that those “great buddies” who I thought were loyal allies, were, in fact, such a negative force that all they did was convinced me to do what they wanted and made me feel like shit in the process.
Why do I refer to them as my friends? Well, I use this analogy to describe the period when I was oblivious to what my mental illnesses were; their voices and influences on me were just a part of me and my life. I was not able to recognize that their influence on me wasn’t normal, and they actually held power over me. Like great friends, I felt that they were an essential part of me.
When I was diagnosed with my mental illnesses I came to understand that they were not an integral part of me at all. In other words, through professional help, I was able to discover their true colours, their true intentions.
Like losing who I thought we’re good friends, it was difficult to discover this new revelation. But it ended up being for the best, not cool at first but eventually, I accepted that I was ill and now that I am on my way to wellness, I feel liberated and free to rediscover me, the real me.
So, are you friends with your enemy? If you are having continual difficulties in many areas of your life, are always negative, find yourself in conflict with others frequently or find it hard to navigate through the world and everyday life; the voice in your head may actually be your mental illness enemy and not an essential part of what makes you, you. Just like the friends you thought you knew.
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