Your Struggles Are Real

Everyone will tell you that they have times of extreme worry, sadness, anger, or frustration. Sometimes, when you try to explain your anxiety or depression to people, they will tell you that these feelings are normal in your given circumstances. This can be really difficult because – as I said in my last post – for many of us the notion that we have a mental health issue isn’t a conclusion we jump to quickly. It’s often something that we figure out over months, often years, and frequently only with some help. Many of you will realise the feeling when you arrived at your tipping point: the point when you admitted to yourself that this isn’t normal, that you don’t want to feel like this anymore, and that you want to be in control of your mind and your feelings rather than them being in control of you.

So it’s easy to feel like your experience is invalidated or rendered insignificant when people tell you that it’s normal. It feels like it’s not something worth talking about because we all go through this stuff, and it’s just part of life. What many people don’t realise is that, while we all experience certain bad feelings sometimes, it’s often their intensity, their frequency, how we deal with them, and how they impact on us that makes them more than just a normal phase. Personally, I always feel it’s fair to say you may have a mental health issue when these feelings regularly impact on your quality of life.

File 21-01-2016, 20 13 13People usually mean well when they tell you it’s normal to feel like this. Especially if your problem is anxiety, they may want to put you at ease and not worry about a potential medical diagnosis in addition to whatever problems are causing you to feel anxious. And their words are worth listening to and considering, especially on those days that are simply shit – the ones I talked about in my last post.

Things like depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues aren’t always easy to explain to others. But your struggles are real. You’re allowed to talk about them. You’re allowed to do something about them, and to seek help if you feel you need it. It’s not for others to judge whether they’re normal, or whether they’re worth talking about.

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Nadine Muller

Nadine Muller

Nadine is Senior Lecturer in English Literature and Cultural History at Liverpool John Moores University. Her research covers the literary and cultural histories of women, gender, and feminism from the nineteenth century through to the present day. She is currently completing a monograph on the Victorian widow (Liverpool University Press, 2018), and is leading War Widows' Stories, a participatory research and oral history project on war widows in Britain.

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