I’ll start off by apologising, because I’m going to get bitchy. As someone who’s a bit of a slave to their emotions I do enjoy a good bitchy rant, so if I’m being completely honest I’m not really sorry. But, eh, I’ll be nice.
I am not depressed.
I do not have depression. I do not suffer with anxiety. I do not have an anxiety disorder.
Let me explain.
First of all, I’m extremely happy (and I have BPD so you know it’s extreme) that people are talking about mental illness. I love the fact that so many people feel safe enough to be open about their experiences of anxiety and depression. This is awesome – however, the public has reached this weird plateau in terms of actually understanding mental illness, and they seem to think that everything is anxiety and depression. People hear that I have BPD and their reaction is usually something along the lines of “Wow, so that’s like… really bad anxiety and depression, right?” It’s as if they think that every mental illness is just a varying form of the same one.
Here’s why that pisses me off.
I’m not depressed. Yes, I get depressive episodes, but it’s not because of depression itself. I have crazy emotions that fling me into a funk. Same on the anxiety side; I get very anxious sometimes, but it’s the appropriate amount of anxiety for someone with emotional dysregulation coupled with freaky paranoia. In fact, the symptoms I struggle with most are my OCD, which comes as part of the BPD fun, and my crazy high moods which make me stupidly impulsive.
I don’t have anxiety and depression.
The first reason people need to understand this about me is because the help I need doesn’t necessarily correspond to how bad I’m feeling. Here’s some great news for you – BPD means that ALL of my emotions can be massive problems! Even the really good ones! Woop woop! Your advice is probably super helpful to people with anxiety and depression – not so much for me though. Because I don’t have anxiety and depression.
The second reason is that I don’t want to be grouped with people who actually have those mental illnesses, because I don’t know what it’s like to have them. I don’t want to be referred to as someone with anxiety because I’ll be immediately misrepresenting them – I don’t know what that disorder feels like. Because I don’t have it.
Thirdly, the reason people need to acknowledge that I don’t have anxiety and depression is because (bitchy time) if they don’t, they are being ignorant. Yep, I’m taking no prisoners here – if I tell you about my BPD and you give me advice based on what you know of anxiety and depression, you are not being helpful. You are being reductive. You have not asked what my symptoms are, and you have grouped every mental illness together into one single pot. Well done, jerk.
A little disclaimer – this is not to say that someone with BPD cannot also have anxiety and depression; it is absolutely possible, it’s just not part of the gig for all of us. And yes, a lot of advice for anxiety and depression is transferable to other mental illnesses, just make sure that you’re not giving the advice based on the fact that anxiety and depression are the only ones you know.
Reread this post and substitute the term BPD for schizophrenia, bipolar or any other of the vast range of mental illnesses that are not anxiety or depression. Now you’ve been ranted at, go. Be free. Become educated. And stop trying to help me with problems I don’t bloody have and focus on the many, many other ones that I do.