Is only seeing, believing?
Imagine you are enjoying a delicious meal- a pasta, a casserole, one of those combination sandwiches. You know the ingredients that make up the item, for example, the lasagne contains bolognaise, bechamel sauce and of course pasta sheets. But what is that elusive taste? It’s not quite a spice, and it’s not that crispy cheese on top, so what is it? You ask others’ opinion, then you find a chef and they answer your burning question: it’s a dash of sun-dried tomato. Of course! The name brings it all together, and you can see how it fits together now. But a few minutes ago you were perplexed and could not place what you were experiencing. It helps when someone who is familiar with the mystery, sheds some light on things!
In the same way, someone suffering with a mental illness may display some symptoms of what they are going through, but so many other parts of the condition may remain quite hidden. For example, coming to terms with a diagnosis and what it means for an entire future, is often quite a private process which may appear to the outside world like someone detaching or reacting to small things with extreme emotion. Side-effects from going onto and staying on medication, can appear a little more apparent though the extent may not be quite as apparent- a constant dry mouth, digestive or sexual issues, are not as noticeable as one may think, yet these are common side-effects of the most prescribed medications for anxiety and depression. Symptoms of the disorder itself which take the form of dysfunctional thought patterns (mostly hidden to the observer), or intense and sometimes wildly fluctuating emotion (less hidden but still largely incomprehensible to the observer), are just some of the experiences an anxiety or depression sufferer goes through on a regular basis. Then we come to the naming of the thing- you have Major Depression, Generalised Anxiety Disorder (or both!) Stigma is just one part of what this label entails; living with this ‘thing’ that you now become, is another.