Mental illness is hard to explain when someone doesn’t understand how you feel. If they’ve never experienced it themselves, they will never comprehend the extent to which mental illness hurts. Depression and anxiety are two disorders that seem impossible to put into words. Descriptions that include the words sadness, worrying, or fear just don’t seem to cut it. It might be silly, but this is how I explain it.
I came across this post saved on my computer.
I wrote this before I ever started a blog, so I figured I'd share it now.
Without warning or notice a baby elephant shows up at your front door one day. At first you’re confused. Where did it come from? What’s the reason? Why me? Without knowing what else to do, you acknowledge that he’s there because he’s new and exotic. He’s a living creature so of course you tend to him with food and water, sometimes not even realizing that you’re slipping left overs to him under the table. After a few days, you get used to him being around but you’re still completely uncertain as to what he’s doing here. After a few weeks, he isn’t new and exotic anymore. He’s taking up room, preventing you from going out, and is quite frankly, a bit messy.
One day you wake up in the morning and he’s already at your bed side, staring at you and begging to be given attention. Notice me! Don’t leave me! That’s enough. You can’t stand it anymore so you take him outside and beg him to leave. You push him away but he won’t move, after all, he’s bigger and stronger than you. You’ve let him live in your house for enough time that he now calls it home and wanting him to leave only makes him want to stay more.
Months go by and he’s gotten bigger. He’s almost full grown and follows you around everywhere. He’s attached himself to you and won’t leave your side. Obviously you can’t go to the store or to a restaurant with an elephant. And how are you supposed to explain him to your friends? So you stay home where you’re comfortable and safe. The elephant has gotten so large that he can almost fill a room, making it difficult to move, so instead you lay in bed most of the time, and like a loyal pet, he lays with you.
The longer he sticks around, the bigger and stronger he becomes, and the weaker you start to feel. Taking care of an elephant is hard, so you’re exhausted and helpless. You miss being able to have fun, but the elephant is a part of your life now and you’re used to him being around. You’re chained down by this massive animal who has no intent of leaving. He’s suffocating you. You wish that he never showed up at your door and you’re angry that you’re the one this has happened to. Why me, elephant? Why did you show up to ruin my life? It’ll be easier to ignore him, you think. Maybe if I pretend he isn’t there, he’ll give up and leave. But how do you ignore an elephant? He is omni-present. Elephants have great memories and they never forget, so he’ll always remind you of your past, and they live for a long time, so you can also expect that he’ll be there for your future.
So you adopt him. He’s a part of you know. "Hi, I’m so-and-so and this is my elephant. We’re a package deal so if you can’t deal with him, you can’t deal with me. He takes some getting used to but I promise he’s friendly. Sometimes he won’t want me to see you and sometimes I’ll convince him to stay home but he’ll show up and ruin our plans anyway. If you want to get to know me, you’ll have to get to know my elephant. I’ll try to hide him from you, but he’ll inevitably be seen. I know he’ll probably scare you and you’ll get tired of him being around. I'm sorry."
This is life with an elephant.
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