What are your Expectations?
No, don’t worry. You haven’t accidentally opened a Charles Dickens novel. You are in the editor’s corner where I make my recommendations from the blog! It’s just when thinking about what to write this week, I was drawn to the topic of expectations and how that impacts us.
What started me down this train of thought was a question from a family member. They asked, without any bad intentions, if I was feeling any better. A perfectly ordinary question, right? Well, no not really. You see this question was asked as part of a conversation about me being put on antidepressants. I’d been on them 3 weeks and had just had the dosage increased. The expectation from this family member was that I should be feeling better by now. It irked me a little. The assumption was that pills will magically have fixed me somehow.
Depression and Expectations
It’s something I’m finding a lot at the moment. It is expected by some people that medication will fix my depression, that I will wake up tomorrow and it will be gone. It’s also strange to these same people if you don’t behave in the way they expect a depressed person to be. Apparently to some, I don’t look depressed. But exactly how am I supposed to look ?
In Alex’s post I Bet You Won’t Find the Dog! he explores the idea of what mental illness is supposed to look like and how that impacts how society views it. It’s an excellent read which I highly recommend you have a look at! The post highlights how you can’t tell who has mental illness just by looking at them, and just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there. Like with me, I find that to those who know me really well, the signs and symptoms are there but they are subtle. But to anyone else I will seem fine, I will hide it well from those around me.
It might seem strange that I can therefore talk about it all so candidly here. It’s because it’s important that I do. Like Alex, I want to challenge what people assume and expect from those with mental health issues. I’ve spoken before how working on this site gives me a purpose. The response we have received has been beyond our expectations! Every day, we gain more followers through Twitter (we recently smashed 1000 followers), new subscribers and so many wonderful comments through our various social media outlets. This is all wonderful, but oddly enough it’s not as important as something I’d like to share with you.
A few weeks ago I wrote a piece called Feeling like a Failure . I’ll be honest it wasn’t easy for me to write. I couldn’t have written it without Alex’s encouragement and support as I was in a pretty bad way. What surprised me was the response it got. We received several comments via Twitter, one of which particularly stuck with me.
Someone else was struggling. They were fighting against the impulse to self harm and reading what I wrote helped them through. They resisted.
It’s one of our aims to help and support those who are going through the darkness. I’ll be honest though, I see my contribution as small. But to see the impact my words had had blew me away.
The impact of my own work defied my expectations. But in some ways it shouldn’t surprise me. Every day we work on this site, Alex and I are defying expectations. We are both diagnosed with depression and anxiety. To some that would mean we wouldn’t be capable of running a website, juggling social media and home lives. But we do.
So I guess this is my message to you all. Forget what your expectations of mental health are; what you may think it looks like, how it may limit you, even what you may expect from taking antidepressants.(They’re not a magic wand after all!) So much of this feeds into the stigma surrounding mental health.
Take each person on their own merits, listen to them, don’t assume. After all, we’re all unique.
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