By Jessica Day
Like many people struggling with mental health problems, it might not always feel easy to talk about what you’re going through. Mental health is something that’s often ignored or swept under the rug, because the people around you usually can’t physically see that you’re struggling. Many people struggling with mental health try to put on a happy face when they’re around others, due to not wanting to talk about it. I know myself and many others face the problem of not knowing how to talk to their loved ones about their current or ongoing mental health struggles. There’re many different reasons as to why someone would feel they can’t speak up, and everyone’s reasons are different.
The person I always had the hardest time talking to about my depression and eating disorder was my mom. My mom is a fantastic mother, and she’s always been there for me no matter what I was going through, but that didn’t make it any easier to talk to her about my mental health problems. The main reason why it was so hard to speak up about it was that I didn’t want to feel like a burden. I didn’t want to pour my problems on my mom, who already had many troubles of her own going on. A part of me knew that she wouldn’t think of me as a burden – I’m her daughter after all – but it was the fear of feeling like I was going to be bothering her with my problems. At the times I did speak up to my mom about my mental health, I couldn’t help feeling like she just didn’t get it. As much as I explained how I was feeling, I always felt as if my current health was being downplayed, like it wasn’t a big deal. This went on for some time, and eventually, I just stopped talking about it with her for a while.
Another reason why I felt like I didn’t know how to approach the discussion of mental health with my mom was that when I had in the past, she’d always blame herself. The first time she ever did was when I was 17 years old, and my mom had just found out I’d been self-harming. When I showed her what I had been doing, she immediately freaked out and started blaming herself and saying she was a horrible mother. I told her time and time again that it had nothing to do with her and it was my own battles I was fighting, but she didn’t want to listen to me. After that, I found it harder to talk to her about my mental health more than ever. I didn’t want her blaming herself for my depression or eating disorder.
As time passed, and I got older, my mom started to understand me more. Although I still found it hard, and didn’t always know how to talk to her about my depression. To this day, I’m still not able to be as transparent with my mom as I wish I was, but we’ve come a long way as far as discussing if I’m feeling okay or not. I’m not upset at my mother for how she reacted at the time, but it’s possible my mental health would have been a lot better if I felt like I could’ve talked to her at the time.
Today, my mental health is slightly better than it was when I was younger. One of the biggest reasons why is that I’ve found people that I have an easier time talking to about it. Even if I’m still holding back a lot because of how my mom made me feel in the past, I’ve learned how to talk about my mental health better throughout the past couple of years.
I hope to keep moving forward with my mental health journey in the future. If I have any advice for anybody struggling right now, it would be to never give up on trying to make yourself heard to your loved ones – even when it feels as if no one is listening to you, or like they don’t get it. Suffering in silence, keeping all your feelings inside, and going through it on your own is awful, and nobody should go through that. I truly hope that everybody that’s going through any sort of mental health hardship finds someone they know how to talk to transparently, and finds peace, but there may definitely be a learning curve.