Don’t Assume I’m Well Because I Speak Out

There seems to be an assumption that people who speak out publically about mental health problems are recovered. This is something I find very difficult because I end up having a lot of conversations with people who assume I am recovered and okay when the truth is that I am not. I feel positive for the first time in a long time, I want to live my life and achieve things and make positive change for other people’s mental health which is why I speak out and put a lot of effort into doing so. This positivity is a new thing, even as little as 8 weeks ago I didn’t feel positive about life and if I am completely honest I didn’t want to be alive. I use this positivity to inspire others because for over a decade I spent every single day wanting to die and I didn’t believe that could ever change but it did and it happened when I was least expecting it. It is very early days, I’m still in the stages of ‘firsts’, the first time I took paracetamol for a headache, the first time I sat down and watched my favourite film. All these little things that add to taking care of myself I am doing for the first time.

With anorexia, I’m not sure I will every be completely better, I have suffered with this illness since I was 5 and to me recovery isn’t about anorexia completely disappearing, it is simply about being healthy enough to participate in life in a fulfilling and meaningful way. I am actually quite unwell with anorexia at the moment, it went downhill after Christmas and I haven’t managed to halt it yet. I work at it every single day but my weight is not healthy, my body is not healthy and my mind is not healthy. I still have a long way to go.

People can speak out about mental illness and make a positive impact on the world around them whilst they are still unwell. I don’t have to be a shiny, recovered, perfect smile kind of person in order to achieve the things I want to when it comes to raising awareness, understanding and educating and inspiring others. I have been detained under the mental health act twice in the past 12 months, I am in treatment for anorexia, I am nowhere near well and recovered and I will probably never be mental illness free.

The media tend to have a focus when they are covering a mental health story. It often involves looking back on the person’s past with mental illness and then a short bit on how well they are now. This is the case for some people but it would be more beneficial to focus on the ‘now’ and on the day to day living with a severe and enduring mental health condition. I think it is very inspiring to see how someone built up a satisfying and happy around their mental illness rather than showing someone who miraculously recovered. There are some people who will probably never be completely well, the media do not cater for these people.

I speak out about mental health, I campaign for positive change in mental health but I still suffer with a severe and enduring mental illness every single day.

6 thoughts on “Don’t Assume I’m Well Because I Speak Out

  1. Very well said, I too find that because I speak out people assume I have recovered. Honestly I think that some of my family assumes that because I am not currently hospitalized that I have recovered. Most of the times when I speak out I am speaking about illnesses that effect me directly but people seem to miss the personal angle.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s so easy to find a redeeming story where someone spiraled down in their mental illness and then came out the other side “recovered.” It’s a lot harder to find people speak out about the day to day struggles and setbacks that occur when you live with mental illness. As someone who also writes about mental health, it can be hard to come out and say your are struggling.

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  3. Another amazing post, Claire.

    I agree with everything you say. I’m passionate about raising awareness, but have also realised I’m going to have to come to terms with the fact that I’ll never be rid of mental illness. I’m put off by the possibility of someone assuming I am ‘well’ just because I ‘speak’ out and would love for there to be more focus on how a person might live a satisfactory life around illness (I guess it goes for physical illness too…).

    Having battled Anorexia, I can imagine how ill you must feel so much of the time, so your strength and courage continue to inspire me.

    Louise xxx

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  4. I 100% agree with this post, I think you’ve made brilliant points, especially about the importance of building up a defence system. I don’t know any official statistics, but I know from experience that mental illness is the kind of thing that lingers and can flare up unexpectedly, and so the more defence mechanisms and coping methods discussed and expressed in articles such as these, the easier people may find it to actually allow themselves to accept help and try things they are reading about.
    I have suffered for the past few years from various mental health issues, and would go so far to say that it has been years since I have been fully unaffected by them, and can’t correctly remember what it’s like to be free of it. I have spoken out in the past and written about experiences, not in a way that would suggest a complete recovery from them, but in attempts to understand and explain some of the things I have gone through, even to myself. It is so important for people to read these things and to realise they are not alone in the struggle to combat these illnesses, and while I’m a long way from being fully recovered still, I genuinely do regularly find that both writing and reading about mental health issues, be they my own or other peoples’, to be effective in relieving symptoms and allowing me some peace of mind.
    Keep it up, you never know who you could be helping xo

    Liked by 1 person

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