Over the last few years there’s been an ever increasing trend in positivity posts under #nofilter, no makeup Mondays, etc. All looking to celebrate the realness behind our public facades. While I think these ideas are great and realness should be celebrated and people shouldn’t be pressured into maintaining an image, I feel there’s still a line many don’t want to cross.
These days mental health seems to be a buzzword that everyone wants to talk about without actually talking about it. How many have seen 13 Reasons Why (or the new ED film To The Bone) on Netflix? Or read the latest mental health awareness article in People/Cosmo/Huffington Post? For an invisible illness it seems to be everywhere, but in the real world we still shy away from speaking out or showing it fully.
About a week or so ago I was calming myself down after a pretty bad panic attack whilst Snapchatting with friends who were unaware of my private meltdown. They were sending me selfies and all I was sending back was blank space with a caption or sticker reply. I felt like I was being cold and distant, and I felt ashamed that I couldn’t show my face because it was a hideous post-panic mess. A couple of times I thought about sending my post-panic selfie to by closest friend (who know about my issues), only to delete it every time. As much as I wanted to be real and honest in my struggles, I felt like there was a line of how much realness was allowed and I couldn’t cross it.
Well here’s the thing I’ve been thinking: none of those shows or articles are going to change mental health stigma unless those of us living with these issues are comfortable being real with those around us. We can debate pros vs cons of 13 Reasons Why until we’re blue in the face but it doesn’t mean anything if people still feel I can’t show weakness or ask for help.
I’ve made a name on being often brutally honest about my own struggle with mental illness. I’ve faced flack and judgement for choosing to share as much as I do, and I’ve had many an inner monologue about whether to share something or not. There are still things I will likely never share publicly here, but I sure hope that is never because I’m ashamed of showing weakness.
Because truth is I’m writing this at 3am because the panic won’t shut up enough for me to sleep, even though the full blown panic attack faded about an hour ago. Truth is I’m laid in bed with my heart still pounding and a face that’s raw not just from a ridiculous amount of bug bites (I’m allergic) but a whole flood of tears and stress induced rubbing. I probably look hideous and just a little bit dying inside. But I’m real. This is me. This is the life I live everyday with a severe anxiety disorder. I can’t change that, I don’t need to change that, and I definitely won’t be ashamed by that.
So here’s a #nofilter post-panic selfie curtesy of Snapchat. Tomorrow may be better, or it could be so much worse (anxiety tends to only escalate on no sleep). One thing I know for certain is I won’t be hiding my mental illness away to make the rest of world more comfortable.