What It’s Like To Travel With A Mental Illness, As Told By Comics

By Lindsay Holmes

Mental health conditions make most tasks feel excruciating. Unfortunately, this even includes traveling.

There are extraneous factors individuals with mental illness often have to deal with when going on a trip that others don’t take into account. These could include a fear of something going amiss with the plane or a physiological inability to relax even when at a tropical destination. But since many of these symptoms are invisible, it can be hard for loved ones to comprehend what’s happening.

Data suggests only 25 percent of people with mental illness feel like others are compassionate about their condition. Since outsiders struggle with understanding these challenges, illustrations can help paint a picture that words just can’t ― and these comics by UK-based artist Loren Conner are the perfect example.

Conner on behalf of the website Staysure asked several people with mental health conditions to describe what it’s like to deal with different disorders while traveling. She then turned their captions into stunning visuals that capture the plight of a traveling with mental health condition.

Take a look at the images below:

DEPRESSION


OCD

SILENCE

PTSD

ADHD

The Contradiction of Living With Both Anxiety and Depression

Carla Robinson

As you probably know, I have the misfortune of living with both a severe anxietydisorder and clinical depression. Firstly, to understand what living with both feels like, you need to understand them separately to understand how they dramatically contrast each other. This really makes everything just that much worse.

With anxiety (and this depends on the person and their specific anxiety disorder, so I’m going to be rather general), you worry too much. This is a huge understatement in itself as “worrying” doesn’t seem to do anxiety any justice. It’s more like this constant fear of everything and anything in your life that could go wrong, will go wrong.

With anxiety, you can’t just “calm down.” Telling someone with anxiety “not to worry” is rather pointless. If we could not worry, then we really would. It’s not as easy as people make it seem. It’s kind of like how you would feel if “Jurassic Park” were real and you were sitting in those stationary cars when the T-Rex makes its dramatic escape.

It’s the feeling of, Oh, God, what is going to happen? What am I going to do? How can I cope? What will people think if I pee my pants from fear right now? What if “X” happens? What if everyone hates me and blames me for the T-Rex’s escape? I know I didn’t do that, but what if I never get to tell anyone the truth? What if I do, and no one believes me?

What if I’m destined to be a failure? Maybe this is God’s way of telling me I’m a failure, by setting a T-Rex on me. Oh, sh*t, I just remembered there is a T-Rex and I’m worrying about being a failure. Will people even notice if the T-Rex eats me? Will they even care? My hands are shaking so badly. Will the people in the car notice? Will they think less of me because I’m not handling this as well as they are? Oh God, I just remembered that embarrassing thing I did/said eight years ago. Oh my God, I’m such a freak. And oh my God, there’s a T-Rex right in front of me.

Obviously, the T-Rex is a metaphor for all that anxiety bubbling to the surface and breaking through. Basically, with anxiety, you care too much. You’re often overemotional and too sensitive. You have a tendency to worry about anything and everything, no matter how ridiculous it seems. Quite simply, you care about everything way too much.

Depression, in many ways, is the exact opposite. With depression (and again, I’m being general, as there are so many different types of depression, and everyone deals with it differently), you often don’t care about anything. You don’t see the point. Why care, when everything is seemingly pointless and hopeless?

It’s like a black hole. Depression sucks in all the negativity, all the badness and forces you to focus on that. It alters your reality to make life seem worthless. The black hole, so capable of drawing in every bad word, bad moment, bad action and bad event, seems to effortlessly repel anything even slightly positive or hopeful. As you can already imagine, having both is torturous. Imagine caring too much while simultaneously not caring at all.

Do you know what it’s like to think, Oh my God, I need to do “X” because of “Y,”and then think, What’s the point? It’s not like it matters anyway. This thought process goes around and around again. Imagine being oversensitive, meaning anything and everything slightly negative is ingested into your black hole of darkness. Imagine the T-Rex is breaking through the fence, and you are simultaneously panicking with despair and fear. (You’re the guy running to the toilet in this situation). All the while, you are wondering what difference it would make if you were eaten. (The guy in the toilet also fits this, as he is eaten. *Spoiler, but really, if you haven’t seen “Jurassic Park,” shame on you.) After all, you tell yourself, would anyone even notice? Perhaps, it would be the best thing for everyone.

This is what living with depression and anxiety is like. It’s both caring and not caring whether or not the T-Rex eats you. (I really feel as though I’ve pushed this metaphor further than it can go, but it sounded nice in my head.) Remember this before you judge someone, questioning their motives, their mental illnesses and their invisible ones.

9 THINGS YOU SHOULD SAY TO A DEPRESSED PERSON THAT ACTUALLY HELP

By Jazmine Reed,

Shutterstock

First, I applaud most everyone who shares their thoughts, experiences and testimonies on Thought Catalog. As a contributor, it takes an amount of courage and vulnerability to offer your work to the Internet. It’s like walking into a circle of bullies and asking for a sucker punch. So ultimately, I commend Dante for his piece. And as someone who has dealt with depression, I’ve felt these emotions myself.

I noticed in the comment section, people were brutal. But some readers did offer a fair question: “What do I say to a depressed person?” And while the word “depressed” is debatable itself, here are personal epiphanies and things that were said to me that helped when I was at the very least, in a dark place.

Disclaimer: There are so many different mental illnesses, so I understand not everything will be applicable to everyone. And I also recognize that some pain is so deep, so chronic that it can only be resolved with therapy and/or medication. But for the pain that can be subsided without those aids, here you are.

“You are not your failures.”

If you know someone suffering from low self-esteem or going through what feels like an impossible grieving process, remind them that they are not defined by their faults, rejections or shortcomings. Remind them of the sincere qualities they possess that make them worthy of happiness.

“You can spend your whole life trying to be satisfied or content or getting answers. Why not spend your life ….living?”

Wise words said by one of my best friends. Sometimes, we can become so absorbed in our own thoughts, problems and worries that we forget to notice there is a whole world waiting for our impact. While you’re trying to figure why something happened, go make something new happen.

“Things will never get better until you stop being bitter.”

You know when people tell you “the most you stop looking for love, you find it”? It’s somewhat like that with happiness. The moment you stop having tunnel vision on your depression, your prospective will change. You may even be more at peace than you thought.

“Just know there are a million people in the world experiencing a similar pain. Be one the ones that heals.”

This may actually appear insensitive. Perhaps it is to some people. But I remember finding such an unusual comfort in knowing that I am not the only one who has dark periods of turmoil. And I think of the thousands of people who will overcome whatever painful situation I am going through. And yeah, I do want to be one of the strong people.

“One thing is certain: The things that don’t make sense or don’t seem fair are the very same things that make you stronger.”

So basically I am paraphrasing a catchy pop song and a platitude older than Earth, but it’s so true. I believe God doesn’t give you anything you cannot handle. Pain teaches us empathy, perseverance and patience.

After being assaulted a couple of years ago, I had so much anger towards the world. And while I will never be happy about the experience, I know that being so brutally hurt, both emotionally and physically, is the very reason I can step up to others and see that I am not my abuse.

“Would you like to go see someone?”

Sometimes, we all need a little intervention. We want someone to give us the nudge we’re afraid to take. Offering a suggestion like therapy is not a cop-out or an insult, it’s saying, “It’s okay to take your pain seriously, and take care of it properly.” Also, the occasional therapy session is awesome! It’s like having a profound sounding board.

Attempt to find the root of the issue

Maybe this takes probing and an in-depth, raw conversation, but a listening ear can lead to revelations and breakthroughs. And I mean really listen when they speak; so often a friend or my mom was able to read me like a book.

“You were created to live a magnificent life. What demons are stopping you?”

Similar to getting to the root of the problem, but remind them that they were created in God’s (or whoever’s) vision. Life was given so that the soul could manifest. Remind them that their life was meant for something, and they should honor that.

My best advice: Just do not brush off their pain

What I found so hurtful in the comment section was the vast amount of “Get over it.” No one wants to feel helpless, so please just try to help them. Of course there’s a difference between wallowing and suffering, but listen and extend positivity and sincerity.

To The Girls Who Feel Like Their Depression Is Winning

By Emily Tate,

Everyone’s going to be telling you it will get better and I know right now all it does is frustrate you, outrage you at how they can assume they know what it’s like. But, baby girl, believe me it will improve if you just stick it out.

Remember that on those godforsaken nights where you’re lying curled up on your bedroom floor tearing your hair out with tears streaming down you face. When all you want to do is scream and scream until the pain ends. Remember there are people who love you, who will miss you if you left without a trace.You’ve fought so so so hard that to give up now would mean it was all for nothing.

Don’t be afraid to seek help. You’ve been there all time for everyone around you, regardless of how much pain you yourself may be in, it’s your turn now. Your turn to seek help and run crying to them.

It doesn’t make you weak.

Quite the opposite, in fact, it makes you strong enough to admit that you aren’t invincible, that you too need help at times. That you aren’t perfect, even if you are pretty close honey.

It’s the only way any of this is going to end.

Sometimes our greatest moments of courage are quiet moments of admission. Admission that we are in need of help, admission that life can get to be too much and admission that we are strong enough to seek help. Those around you will be more than happy to lift you up, to pick up the pieces but at the end of the day you need to be strong enough to ask them to.

I know currently you hate yourself more than words can tell you right now, but God honey you are incredible. You can’t see it now but you’re intelligent and capable and talented and strong and independent and beautiful, oh so beautiful.Even today it’s not totally clear to me but know that someday it will be. Let your loved ones show you but know that at the end of the day you’re the only one who can pull yourself through this. Those stories about boys with broken smiles who single handedly drag damsels out of their distress are just that, stories.

You need to be your own Prince Charming, you own knight in shining armour, your own superman.

But God, baby girl, you are so much stronger, capable of so much more than any of them ever could be.

Put down the pills, darling, life is too short as it is, why on earth would you want it to be any shorter? You’re going places, sweetie, this is just a bump in the road, another obstacle before you get there. You’ll be so much stronger for it someday but for now just stick it out, seek help and know that it does get better.

If Your Anxiety Is Getting The Best Of You, Start Practicing These 10 Simple Lifestyle Changes

By Jillian Leedy

1. Disconnect from social media.

Put down the phone. Step away from the computer.

The Internet can be a beautiful place with a wealth of knowledge at your fingertips. But, social media can be a bombarding source of constant negativity. Facebook rants. Endless gossip. Twitter takedowns. Constant criticism.

People get brave when they get behind their computer screens and often say things that they would not normally say in public or to someone’s face. Exposure to this negativity everyday, multiple times a day, can really affect your mental health.

Use the Internet to read about the news of the day and what’s going on in the world. Learn about new scientific and archeological discoveries. Stream space launches and missions. Browse book and movie reviews. Check out documentaries or Netflix shows. Listen to new songs. Watch dog and cat videos. Explore the interwebs to your heart’s content. But, limit your social media time to once or twice a day for a short time. It will make a world of difference in improving your mood.

2. Meditate.

Detach from the day’s chaos. Quiet your mind. Relax your body. Breathe. Focus only on what you can smell, hear, and feel.

Just fifteen minutes a day of closing your eyes and shutting out the world can calm your brain, increase mindfulness, and reduce stress and depression.

3. Volunteer.

Doing good things for others actually benefits you. Helping others teaches you compassion and gives you a sense of purpose. The social connections you make with others and the warm feelings you gain from doing charity work can even benefit your health and well-being. By enriching and bettering your community, you improve your sense of altruism and feed your soul.

Pick a cause you are passionate about and get to work.

4. Get in touch with nature.

Find a local park or forest and go for a walk. Find your nearest mountain and take a hike. Find a stream or river, take your shoes off, and dip your feet in.

Nature grounds you and gives you a connected feeling to the Earth around you.

Breathe in the fresh air. Glance up at the beautiful blue sky. Watch the trees and clouds move in the wind.

Observe a stunning sunrise or sunset. Look up at the stars and moon and planets.

Nothing can put things in perspective better than looking out at the Earth from a mountaintop or staring up at the sky. It reminds you just how small and insignificant our lives and problems are compared to the vast universe.

Also, the endorphins that you get from the exercise are a surefire way to boost your mood.

5. Go into every experience for the day with a positive attitude.

Even if you’re having a bad day or you don’t want to do something, try to go into an event or meeting or presentation with an open mind and a positive attitude. If you feel good going in, you’ll get more coming out.

By telling yourself that it will go well, you are changing your perspective and reframing your mindset. It’s kind of like the principle “fake it until you make it.” Experiences that once were a hassle or an obligation will eventually bring you excitement and joy.

6. Set basic goals for yourself each day.

Make your bed. Follow a daily chore calendar. Have a laundry schedule. Plan and fix yourself homemade meals and baked goods. Tend to a plant. Allot yourself so much time per day for journaling or creative endeavors.

By establishing goals each day that are simple and realistic, you can achieve them easily. This will make you feel more productive and empowered, giving you the confidence to attack the day and accomplish greater goals.

7. Recognize and appreciate the beauty in simple everyday things.

We’ve all heard the phrase “stop and smell the roses.” And there’s a lot of truth in it.

Notice the person helping the elderly cross the street. Notice the people who hold doors open for others. Notice the smile and laughter of children. Notice the helpers and the Good Samaritans.

Savor a delicious meal. Enjoy a good cup of tea. Take a bath. Watch your favorite film.

Do things that make you happy and be observant enough to recognize the good happening all around you.

8. Get sleep.

Getting seven to eight hours each night is no joke. Lack of sleep slows your reaction time, impairs your decision-making skills, and hinders your awareness. No shut-eye can throw off your hormones and blood levels leading to anxiety and grumpiness.

Not only this, but not getting your rest can cause countless health problems over time from heart disease to obesity to diabetes.

9. Be grateful.

Take time to pause at the end of each day and write down one thing you are grateful for from that day.

Relishing in good experiences and happy memories cultivates emotional maturity and positivity.

10. Don’t worry about things that have yet to happen or things that you can’t control.

Worrying about the future causes unnecessary stress in the moment. Just focus on one day at a time and realize that you are capable of handling much more than you think.

Try this exercise in your mind. Think about the things that worry or scare you. Consider the worst possible scenario. Now find a solution for that scenario. By playing out your worst thoughts in your mind, you are able to conquer those fears, ease your mind, and re-focus on living life in the present.