What Undiagnosed Mental Health Issues Look Like

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For the better part of my life, I didn’t know I had anxiety. I didn’t know the meaning behind the word or what could cause such a thing. I wouldn’t observe my actions and choices inside that lens.

What Undiagnosed Mental Health Issues Look Like

I grew up thinking that I was me, and being me was an unknown, functioning in an operating culture within a larger society. I had food at the table, clothes to keep me warm and whatever I was going through was normal. 

However, my truth is, that normality was just a cover for what was really going on. As a matter of a fact, I was abused. I was facing physical and psychological abuse daily for as long as I can remember. I was scared every day and I couldn’t rescue myself or ask for help, because I didn’t know this was not normal.

My parents didn’t see it. They didn’t tap into the danger I was in and they left me to “play”. Only there was seldom any play at all. Most of the time it was me at the receiving end of my brother’s frustrations and insecurities. You can guess what that meant for me.

My parents were working or busy with their own struggles to be able to notice what was happening. Growing out of my childhood into my teens without this valuable knowledge, had many unfortunate and unsavoury consequences.

I was labelled as a lazy person who acted like a victim and didn’t do anything for myself and just forsook all the chances that I got. Again, nobody knew what was going on, I just felt like everybody was right despite my pride and my apparent strength.

When I realised

This went on for years until I was finally in a position to realize that “something was going on”. I found a therapist in my late 30s. A door of perception opened up and I was able to start connecting some dots. It took most of my life to get here.

This is what undiagnosed mental health struggles look like. They are hidden under the surface of discourse, normality and relentless denial. There is an enormous resistance to frame it for what it is. We feel ashamed, alone and removed from the closest people in our lives. This resistance may be inside of us, our friends and peers and our family. 

We simply don’t believe we will be “seen” and or validated. What makes matters worse is that we assimilate what we were told, so we lie, we hide but we believe in those labels so much that our anxieties and depressions manifest as a consequence of this distortion between who we are, what we are told we are,  and what we could be if were guided towards that.

Parents: talk to your children!

If you are a parent now, please watch your kid’s behaviours, allow and create a space for communication to flow both ways. Talk with them about mental health and allow them to express, explain and take their time doing it. They are more than your child, they are themselves and deserve their individuality and the help to discover what that is, what it feels like and what it means.

Love them, don’t say you love them. Love them. Hug them. Be there for them. Every day. They are your responsibility.

I am a father too, I am breaking this cycle. I won’t let my children go alone feeling scared of a world that wasn’t explained to them.

Talk. Communicate. We love it.

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