It used to be that I hid it so well I was ill. Nobody, nobody knew of my inner struggles. Now it seems as though everybody knows. Mum, dad, younger brother, grandparents, aunt, other aunt, cousins… Perhaps it’s a result of the decline in my mental health over the years. Maybe it’s because I’ve become more open as time has gone on. Most likely a bit of both.
These past couple of days has found me sinking into depression again. Mum’s noticed. I attempted to deny anything was wrong, which fell apart once the tears started flowing. She’s obviously worried, doesn’t know how to help, and then she started crying too. Dad’s noticed too, or perhaps mum’s told him so. “Have you been feeling low these past couple of days? You have to tell us!” I give no response, and escape to my room the earliest chance I get. Whilst done out of care and concern, it’s become rather suffocating and uncomfortable. I’m beginning to miss those days where they had no clue.
My aunt and grandparents’ tactic is to give me pep talks every opportunity they get. “You have to be strong!” they exclaim. They point out how they have overcome adversity. They give examples of people with physical disabilities who are determined enough to have found ways around it and gone on to lead satisfying lives. I sit and stare at them in silence. It’s not about you, I want to tell them. While I have respect for them, it’s not about the amputees on TV who go on to win medals in the Para-Olympics. What they don’t get is that no matter how many times they tell me this, no matter how many examples they give me, it’s not going to pull me out of this. Depression is not about strength of mind.
Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, my family and relatives have practically no experience with mental health issues, and therefore limited understanding of it.
In five days I fly to Indonesia on my own to stay with my relatives who reside there. Earlier on I wasn’t keen to go, but gosh am I looking forward to escaping now, even if only for a week. At least there I won’t be known as the ’emotionally fragile one with mental issues.’ I won’t have to listen to my mother and father discussing what to do about me. I won’t have to listen to my grandmother phoning up my mum saying that she’s still concerned about me. I won’t have to feel my parent’s constant gaze on me and deal with their awkward attempts at asking me if I’m okay.
I am not enjoying my family knowing in the least.