I’m annoyed…pissed off even. Usually, that means that I wouldn’t blog and I would just write a really long journal entry and call it a day. But, I’m not happy with how much I’ve been blogging lately, so maybe this will make it a little more real for you all.
I spend a lot of time online. Can’t you tell? I’m trying to start a damn business for God’s sake and it seems like the big way to do that is through social media. For a while, I was following a bunch of people just to get follows back, but also just see what the online community I was getting into was all about. On EmyD especially, though, I’ve been really quick to unfollow people who aren’t aligning with how I feel about mental health, acceptance, and being an ally.
So, that being said, let’s jump right into it. I’ve been reading a lot of posts about people blaming their current mental illness on a family member, ex, or toxic friend. Today, I felt my hands clench when I read that phrase “my ex caused my anxiety”. Or, I recently read “my best friend gave me depression”. I mean, the foundation of your mental illness is for your own analysis… so, maybe that is how you feel. It’s definitely possible that you never felt the symptoms of anxiety, depression, or other mental health problems until some negative person triggered them. But, let’s get something straight here. Mental illnesses are not gifts that you just hand out. It’s not weight that you can just gain and lose as the wind blows. You have anxiety because you have anxiety. Your ex might have put you through some traumatic events that now trigger those attacks – but you have anxiety because your brain chemistry. Believe me, I want to blame my fucking ex for my mental health issues too, but I can’t because he isn’t to blame… my brain is. Your best friend might have made you really sad, said some shit, even bullied the fuck out of you… but she did not give you depression like the common cold. You have depression because your brain is not producing enough serotonin.
It’s really easy to want to blame someone else for your mental health struggles. When you can put a face to it, hate someone for it, and just curse at someone rather than the intangible thing that is the universe, it feels a little bit easier. Sometimes, those people were literally devil’s spawn too. They did everything they could to make your mental health worse. I get it. That dialogue, though, is really dangerous. There is a difference between someone being a trigger/detriment to your mental health and blamed for its creation and continuation.
How can this be dangerous, you ask? Well, its true that some people did get put through some trauma at the hands of family, friends, or other loved ones that led them to mental illness down the line – that’s just a fact. But, for those going through that, it makes it really confusing as to why their illness isn’t getting better even if those people are out of their life. If you have a platform and constantly say that your mental illness falls into the hands of someone else, it encourages everyone else to try and find that as well; rather than holding it close, seeking out help for yourself, and loving yourself through the flaws.
I have had anxiety for literally all of my life. I wasn’t diagnosed with it until I was 16 years old, but I can look back and realize that there were moments during swim or school that I was absolutely going through an anxiety attack. At the moment, I couldn’t put those feelings into words. In those times, mental illness wasn’t as talked about and I was pretty young to be able to see that within me. But, after struggling with it for years, I can recognize moments that I absolutely had anxiety/depression in middle school or early high school. I was diagnosed with panic disorder as well – which is something I grew into as I struggled to internalize my mental illness. I am one of the ones that read those posts and was just defeated.
Clearly, that dialogue pisses me off now, but for a while, it really got to me. I had an amazing childhood. I know that I’m one of the ones that was blessed to never have experienced serious trauma or abuse that I could name as the foundation for my mental illness – so dialogue like that made me feel really invalidated. I wanted to blame someone, anyone. I tried to blame bad friends and my ex for mental health, but none those people caused the chemical imbalances in my brain. Sure, they weren’t beneficial for my recovery, but they didn’t give me this illness. There were even moments when I told my ex he was the reason for my depression/panic disorder. If you’ve kept up with this blog at all you know that he absolutely did not help those things, he did put me through some trauma, but it was completely unfair of me to say that – no matter how shitty of a person he was toward me. In those moments, it gave me an out to not have to deal with my mental illness. As long as I was thinking about him, I could push the blame onto him rather than taking responsibility for not doing all the things I had learned in therapy & not being true to myself.
And this is not me blaming the victim!! This is not me saying if you’re getting the shit kicked out of you that you’re not allowed to feel depressed. No, absolutely not. This is me saying that people on these platforms need to be talking about the wins and losses even after the triggers go away. Validating the entire process – because mental health is just as valid when the triggers are staring you in the face as when you can’t even identify what your triggers are.
For so long, I’ve been on this journey just trying to get people to understand that anxiety and depression is not something I wake up and choose to have. Even more important, we’re all on a journey that no one can replicate, match, or really understand every aspect of. So, if you’re still in the part of your journey where there’s resentment and anger in your heart because you have a mental illness & it’s easier to blame someone – I get that. I totally was there, but it wasn’t a healthy place to be advocating from on a platform. But, we’re in a world in which some people still don’t understand that people can’t just wake up and not feel anxious. Some people don’t understand that I can’t just roll out of bed and not feel depressed – so creating a narrative that mental illness comes and goes as easy as the douchey guys and bitchy girls from your 20s does nothing to validate this community.
Here’s my point: Share your story and normalize mental health always. But, if you’re going to get online and preach about to a lot of followers about positive thinking , keeping it real, and being an ally…. you have to be willing to take hold of mental health by the horns (yours, mine, everyone around you). Be the Hercules, in that situation. There’s no right or wrong way to do this. We’re all fucking up all of the time – I promise.
Biggest thing is that as someone with a mental illness, I have the ability to relate to someone. That experience can either be a positive or a negative one. I control that with what I write online, what I post, and even what I repost. Is my content always positive? No. Do I make mistakes and have areas where I need growth? Of course. But, if someone is going to relate to me because of diagnoses that they share with me, I want it to be because they see someone who’s struggled just as much as they have/are and who’s constantly working to get better. I want them to see someone who doesn’t really have any trauma or abuse to pin my mental illnesses on and felt invalidated for a while, but finally found footing in this community. I want them to relate to me because I am taking my anxiety, depression, and panic disorder in my own hands – as a part of who I am, but not something that defines me. You feel me?
So, watch what your posting. Think of the angry little girls that are reading it and might be getting the wrong idea. Spread love and positivity. Most importantly, be your unapologetic self and the internet (and world) will reward you for it. THAT’S my rant of the day. I feel better.
Thanks for all the love! Comments, questions, concerns? Hit me up on any of my socials @emydblog for Insta, Twitter, and FB. Or, you can email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) to chat as well – I’d love to connect with you!