A girl with too many thoughts...

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Topical Tuesday: Independence & Mental Illness

I want to introduce some consistency to my blog posts and so, I am going to start a blog series entitled 'Topical Tuesday'. Basically, every Tuesday I will aim to publish a blog post discussing an important topic within mental health and sharing my views on such topics. I really hope people decide to join in and voice their own opinions, either in the comments or on Twitter. My first 'Topical Tuesday' post is on mental health and independence, following on from a Twitter poll I posted a few weeks ago...

I think we all get to a certain age where we begin to appreciate a level of independence and control over our lives. We want the space to live our life how we see best.  Having said that, when living with a mental illness, this sense of autonomy can be taken away from us to some degree. We may be more reliant on others or not trusted to be left to our own devices as much as the next person. I'm not for one second saying there is something wrong with this, rather just pointing out that this is true for many people with mental health conditions (of course not for everybody).

Take me for example. When I was in the grasps of severe OCD, I relied on my Mum heavily for help and support. I'd even go as far to say I was completely dependent on her for a while. I needed her help to do the most basics of tasks: eating, drinking, the list goes on. I was seventeen years of age but I relied on her as if I was a young child. It's not like that anymore, but even now I still rely on those close to me for emotional support, as well as receiving a bit of extra support from uni and mental health services.

Sometimes however, it can start to feel suffocating. Having people check up on me all of the time can get frustrating, especially when I just want to be left alone.  I do not want to feel as though I'm less independent than others just because I suffer from a mental illness - and it's not just me who can feel this way. I ran a poll on Twitter and around half of the people who voted agreed that as a mental health sufferer, they are given less independence than others.

It's a tricky one and there are many important aspects that must be considered. Of course I fully acknowledge that some individuals' welfare may be at risk and therefore, as frustrating as it may be for them at the the time, they can't be given full independence. However, at a certain stage in recovery there needs to be a balance between having suitable support in place without it being overbearing. I think it's essential when you are getting better to learn how to take responsibility for yourself again and not rely on others too much.

Of course this is my standpoint on the topic and yours may differ, in which case I'd love to hear what you have to say! Everybody's experience is going to be different and what's good for one person may not be good for another, but that is the nature of mental illness: no two experiences are exactly the same.

What are your thoughts on the matter? Do you feel you are given less independence because of your mental illness?

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4 comments

  1. This would make a great series. It's brave of you to talk about this. I too have social anxiety, it's not diagnosed but I'm pretty sure I have it. Looking forward to this series.

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    1. Thank you so much! I'm glad you think this series is a good idea. :)

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  2. Independency is a topic over which I have very avid discussions with myself. Ever since I moved out I feel like I won´t give up on my independency. I hate the big distance to my family but even if I move closer after my degree I will not fully move in with my parents again. Yet when it comes to emotional independency I´m yearning for someone I can lean on to. Currently, my mom is my one and only rock and while I deeply love her for it I really want someone else to be there as well. Maybe someone who is my age who I can discuss other topics with as well. With mental illnesses independency is definitely about listening to your own heart and what you desire and need and finding the right balance.
    xx Lisa | Following Lisa

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    1. I feel very similar to you in that as much as I find the distance from my family whilst I'm at uni difficult at times, I couldn't imagine going back to live at home once I've finished my degree - not now I have taken that step & moved out. I can also relate to what you say about emotional dependency as I too rely heavily on my Mum for emotional support, and am obviously very grateful that she'll always be there for me when I need help. I agree, finding a balance within all of this, especially when it comes to our mental health, is really key. xx

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