So, over the years, I’ve been diagnosed with some pretty awesome stuff, and lots of it. And yes, I’m being sarcastic; after all, I’m British. But besides sarcasm, another thing us British people do well is “stiff upper lip”. For those unfamiliar with this phrase, it means essentially, keep calm and carry on. Don’t tell people you have problems. You have to keep up appearances, show no weakness, show no emotion. Everything must be perfect and everyone must be perfect at all times, no matter how they really feel.
In a way, that whole, “keep it all in” is a defence mechanism, it’s very much a protection, after all, if a lion saw a zebra with a limp, you think its gunna try really hard to catch the fastest one of the heard? Of course not, it goes for the easy option. That is how a lot of people view the world, as an African Savannah where the weak get picked off first and you have to walk and talk as though you are in perfect shape, otherwise, along comes a lion and that’s the end. In past times, this has been the case. Think of all the times people with different religious beliefs have been rounded up and murdered. Or those with “defects” put in asylums where they’re fed goop and locked in padded rooms so the rest of “decent society” don’t have to look upon them.
I know I’m kinda speaking for British people as if we are the only ones that act this way, but that’s mainly because I don’t have enough experience with other cultures to really comment on them but having suffered with various problems over the years and had the over whelming feeling to keep it secret, I think I have an idea of what I’m talking about.
I’m not going to tell you my whole life story, at least not yet anyway, but the simple fact was, when I was growing up, one of the people around me seemed to have anything wrong with them, none of them seemed sad for no reason, none of them got insanely angry over tiny things, none of them seemed anything other than normal, so, I figured they were how people should be, and I, I was a problem.
So, to solve this problem that was me, I took on a new persona. I became the girl everyone thought was fine, the one who liked dress up and art , the one who enjoyed singing and animals, the one who could be nice and kind or loud and excitable depending on what kind of audience he had. I became a crowd pleaser, meticulously investigating the people I was around so as to find the best character for them. I could be crazy and funny and come out with all sorts of nutty ideas, or I could be calm and quiet, totally serene, like some kind of angel. I became what everyone around me wanted from me, because in my mind, the real me, was someone no one wanted around.
After a few years, I forgot I was doing this. I forgot that all these personas weren’t actually me and I began getting confused as to who I actually was, as to whether there even was any of the real me left. Crazy paranoid thoughts questioning my own existence began to dance around my head, and who could blame me. All that I had become completely revolved around other people. I felt as if, that if everyone on earth disappeared, I would too, because I only existed to please them, without an audience, I didn’t exist.
I know a lot of this was to do with my MUCH later diagnosis of BPD and all the other wonderful problems I’ve picked up along the way, but I think a lot of it, was to do with the worlds view of people who are different.
Yes, I’ve upgraded from Britain to the World because honestly, although I think British people are pretty good (or should I say bad?) at putting a brave face on everything, I think everyone has contributed in some way.
We all hide who we really are, what we really feel, think and do when actually, a lot of us NEED to talk about the problems we have inside, a lot of us need people to recognise that we aren’t all “fine thanks” that we aren’t perfect model citizens without a problem in sight, but we actually do need help and support.
Sometime in the past year, I was given a diagnosis on M.E otherwise known as chronic fatigue which is not a fun diagnosis. For those of you who don’t know much about this, It’s a feeling of constant tiredness tied in with plenty other issues and I’m telling you, it’s not something you want to have. For a long time I had never told anyone about the issues I faced, except the odd few I really trusted, but I was starting to try and change my way of thinking. I was trying to make more people aware of at least some of my problems so they could understand if I suddenly had to sit down and rest for a bit.
I mentioned my diagnosis to an acquaintance, and oh boy is he even less of an “acquaintance” now because you know his reaction to when I said “I have been diagnosed with M.E”?
He laughed and said, “Well you can explain that to me on the journey home because I don’t believe that’s a real condition.”
I was stunned. Absolutely completely stunned.
You see, these are the kinds of things people with health issues have to face; these are the reasons so many people don’t share their problems, so many people hide and lie pretending they are fine. We are faced with so many backward thinking people who tell us these illnesses are “all in your head” or tell us we are “just looking for attention.”
The stigma and the misunderstandings around mental and some physical health conditions are beyond ridiculous and they have to stop. We have to stop assuming everyone with depression is just “a lazy downer” and that things like M.E or Fibromyalgia (which I also have by the way) are “all in your head” and “good ways to get out of work” simply because they can’t SEE anything wrong with you.
You see people, the main reason people suffer in silence, the main reason people don’t get help and end of dangerously harming themselves to the point of death, is because there are people still out there with obnoxious attitudes who refuse to accept that some illnesses are invisible and that by having these you automatically become weak.
So, what do you say we kick them to the curb and get everyone to know, exactly what these illnesses are, so that in the future, little kids will feel confident to talk to an adult about how they are feeling, rather than suffering in silence for years, trying desperately to make everyone happy.