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Mental illness vs. emotions

"OMG I'm so depressed that I can't go out this weekend!" - no, you're not depressed, you're just annoyed.

I really think that part of the problem with people's understanding of mental health is how it's spoken about in the media/tv/films etc. People use 'depressed' and 'anxious' as moods the same way they use 'happy' and 'sad', but they're not. It's the same thing with calling people 'anorexic' as a compliment as the Kardashians have been caught in hot water for doing multiple times. Talking about mental illnesses like this makes them seem like trivial things that aren't important, aren't terrifying, aren't serious.

There is a massive difference between feeling sad and having Depression; there's a massive difference between feeling stressed or anxious and having Anxiety. I guess this kinds of contradicts my previous comment about 'anxious' not being a mood, but people can definitely feel anxious about a specific thing, but that's not necessarily Anxiety. There's even a difference between panic attacks and anxiety attacks. Anxiety attacks generally have a trigger, so for me, for example, I hate airports, they fill me with anxiety, and over the last few years every time I've had to be at an airport, I've had an anxiety attack. But I know it's coming, my anxiety will build for a couple of days before but once I'm in the air, once I'm at the destination, the anxiety stops, the trigger has gone. However, panic attacks come out of nowhere, often unprovoked. They don't build up, they just happen, and to be honest, in my experience they're worse because I can't put preventative measures in place, and if I'm not with someone I know, it's horrible. Going to an airport, I know I'll be with my parents, Luke or friends, but sometimes I have panic attacks when I'm in a shop on my own, and I don't have anyone around me.

I saw this image online and thought it gave a pretty good overview of the difference.

It's the same with OCD. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is not just keeping things clean and tidy. It's when someone has to stick to their routine obsessively: whether that be having to clean the surfaces 10 times a day, or check the locks on doors and windows every hour (there are plenty of other behaviours that fall under OCD). OCD is a mental illness where a person's brain is filled with unwanted and repeated thoughts, feelings and ideas which lead them to do something over and over, it's not just organising your lipstick in colour order.

I'm no doctor, I definitely don't know all the differences between different mental illnesses, but as with all my blog posts, I'm just writing from experience. But what I do know, is there is definitely a difference between feeling a bit down and having Depression. In some ways the comparison is similar to that on anxiety and panic attacks in the sense that when you're sad, there's normally a reason and you can work on ways to get over and work through the thing that's making you sad. However, if you have Depression, a lot of the time there is no trigger, the Depression just consumes you and you get more annoyed and upset because you just don't know why. I know with me, there is a baseline cause of it all from years ago, but there's not one specific cause when it comes and goes. I sometimes get worried now that when I'm feeling down that it means my Depression is getting bad again, but for me, it's like I've forgotten about the 'normal' emotions and I worry I'm depressed when actually something has upset me. So I have to remind myself that just because I'm sad, it doesn't mean I'm depressed.

Basically what I'm trying to say is although we are trying to normalise mental illness in today's society, it doesn't mean we should trivialise it. I think the biggest thing that needs to change is in the media, but I know my little blog isn't going to do that, so if you hear anyone use mental illnesses as descriptions for their mood, maybe try and explain the difference to reduce the trivial uses of the words.


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