Thoughts & Experience, Tips & Advice

Living with a mental illness: The side effects we don’t talk about

We often hear about the major side effects of living with a mental illness: panic attacks, low mood, feeling isolated and even suicidal thoughts. We don’t often hear about other side effects that can go alongside it, things that can effect our everyday lives and go hand in hand with our mental illness.

Unable to concentrate or focus

People living with a mental illness can often feel like their mind is just fuzzy, they often forget things or struggle concentrating or focusing on something. They can easily feel overwhelmed with to-do lists and unable to sit down and actually put together a to-do list. It’s like your brain just doesn’t have the time to just stop: it feels like its constantly whirring around and around and you can only pluck out certain bits of information at a time.

They can often struggle with completely every day tasks because of this. Life admin is not an easy thing to do and just simply making a call or sending an email can take processing time and also can cause a lot of anxiety and build up.

Change in eating habits

When you are living with a mental illness eating can be seen as more of a chore or something that you don’t require. You can feel sick when it comes to meals or just be happy to skip meals all together as they are an inconvenience in your every lives.

You could often find yourself not eating for days and then suddenly binging on unhealthy foods. Cooking can also be a struggle and why sometimes we find ourselves eating unhealthily because it’s more convenient.

Significant exhaustion

I am always tired. Always. I constantly feel like I just don’t have enough energy to get through a normal day. I end up falling asleep before 8pm and then struggle to get up the next morning.

It’s not just physical exhaustion but mental as well. You wake up feeling like your brain has done a GCSE Maths paper and you need to just switch off. It takes so much energy to so a simple task or even to concentrate on a TV programme.

Problems with alcohol or drug abuse

If you found something that made you feel again of course you will want to go back to it again and again, even if it’s not good for your overall health. It can happen easily over time, you find yourself having a glass of wine or two each night to try and make yourself feel better or just, feel and then you find the empty bottles and notice how much you have drank that week.

Same with drug abuse, it can be a distraction, something to take your mind of things or just make your mind numb – then you wake up and realise you can’t remember the last time you could actually remember something. It’s a slippery slope.

Sex drive changes

If you don’t have energy to read through an email why would you have energy for sex? If you can’t feel anything the last thing you may want to do is sex, sex requires connection – a mental presence and something our mental illness takes away these things. You may just have no sex drive whatsoever, you may not want to connect with anyone and be left alone. Relationships can be challenging when your partner is living with a mental illness as sex can be a vital part of the relationship connection in some relationships.

Mental illness is that, an illness that is complex and each person’s experience is very different. We recently wrote a post about how to support someone living with a mental illness as it can be very challenging to know how to do so, especially if you have never had mental health issues in the past.

Living with a mental illness is not easy, but that’s why it’s important we talk about what it’s like as the more we do the more others will understand.

Take care of yourself.

Emma x

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