There are several reasons why people may be hesitant when it comes to opening up about mental health, and especially mental illness. Stigma still plays a large part, while others may feel that what they’re experiencing “isn’t that bad” and that others have it worse, so it’s not worth bringing up.
Similar to this, others may be afraid to open up about their mental health because they are afraid of taking up too much space in others’ lives. It’s not uncommon for those experiencing symptoms of mental illness feeling like they are a burden and that their mental illness is something that will inconvenience others around them. Some may view simply existing with mental illness as troublesome and being a negative presence around others, while others may feel that talking about their issues and what they’re going through is too selfish.
As humans however, we all crave attention and the feeling of being wanted. There’s nothing wrong – and it’s even helpful – to openly talk about what you’re going through and when your mental illness is severely impacting you. When it comes to trying to find that balance of seeking support from others and demanding too much space, keep in mind some of the following items:
If you think you’re taking up too much space, you most likely are not. Mental illness has a way of manipulating and negatively affecting your thoughts and how you see the things and people around you. While you may think that you’re being selfish and only talking about the negative things that you’re experiencing, the reality is, it’s probably not the only thing that you’re talking about with others, and definitely not the only thing others are talking about with you.
Find and trust your support system. Obviously, you don’t need to tell everyone in excruciating detail about what you’re going through, but try to find at least a couple of people who have similar mental illness experiences, are those that you can trust, and/or identify as people close to you. In moments when your mental illness seems overbearing, they can be people you can immediately contact. If you are having difficulty finding a support group, there are online spaces for those to talk about their mental illness with others in a nonjudgmental and safe space (like SOVA!).
If you don’t get a response right away, it’s most likely not because of you. Just like the human need for attention, humans also naturally center themselves and that the things that are happening around them are a result of things that they have done. If you text a friend that you’re not doing too well and they haven’t responded immediately, just remember that everyone has their own lives and are being affected and demanded by other tasks, people, and things. A response two hours later is not reflective of you; they may just be experiencing other things that are taking up their time.
Who have you talked about your mental illness with? Have you been afraid to open up about things because you think it’s selfish or burdensome?