When Your Mental Health Makes You the “Difficult” Child/Patient/Client // Shattering Stigmas

Posted October 5, 2017 by Inge in Features, Join the Dance // Events, Tags & Challenges / 8 Comments

Shattering Stigmas is an annual blogging event that lasts two weeks. During this fortnight, we’ll be talking about anything and everything mental health related. The aim of these posts are to take away some of the stigma surrounding mental illness, to invite people to open up about their stories, and to help others learn.

Make sure you check out our other stigma ninjas:

Note: I don’t often write these sort of posts. They’re a bit negative, and I’m all about spreading positivity and hope throughout the mental health community. However, for the sake of our Shattering Stigmas event, I am being open and honest, warts and all.


I practise the art of invisibility, and I practise it well. Nobody looks twice when they walk past me. I am completely forgotten seconds after being talked to. I just want the least attention on me as possible, and for a while, I managed just that.

But thanks to my anxiety and my depression rearing their ugly heads, I have officially fallen into the category of “the burden.”

My parents would never tell me I am a burden, of course, but I am 25 years old and still completely dependent on them. I need them around as motivation to take care of myself — they’re the biggest reason why I get up in the morning, or why I’m not a complete mess anymore.

I lived alone for a while, when I was in college, and that’s where everything turned to hell. I couldn’t leave my dorm without self-medicating (don’t self-medicate!) or getting panic attacks. I stopped going to classes. I was no longer able to use public transport, when I used to enjoy taking the train. Something as mundane as grocery shopping became nearly impossible and took everything out of me. I stopped seeing my friends. Every day was a full-on war against anxiety. There were days when I stayed in bed until 5 PM because what was the point of getting up? I couldn’t leave my dorm, even though I was completely sick of it — by the end of my time there, I practically wanted to jump against the walls. Eventually, I had to drop my studies and move back home.

I’ve been in treatment and on meds for the past 2.5 years now, and I’ve come a long way since then. But I’m nowhere near “normal” yet — there’s still that aspect of having to rely on my parents for everything while taking away their chances. They can’t go away together because I can’t be alone at night, and I’m still not seeing a lot of people, so inviting everyone over for a fun slumber party is not an option. With everything they do and all the plans they make, they have to keep me in the back of their minds. We all worry if I’m ever going to make something of myself. I know I need to take care of myself first, but I’m filled with all these wants, and nowhere to put them.

Some days, “your day will come” just isn’t enough.

My parents are absolute troopers and I constantly feel like I’m holding them back. So I try not to be a bother. But that’s a lot easier said than done when you’re dealing with mental health.

Outside of the safety of my home, it’s even worse. Let’s take a look at the last time I was in the hospital. I was having ear surgery done, something that was very important to me. I woke up from the anaesthetics and felt like horse shit. This was the first time I threw up in 15 years, which was incredibly jarring. I was so nauseous and uncomfortable, and there was this pressure bandage wrapped around my head, giving me headaches. I was miserable and I was scared, which triggered a full-on panic attack. It was the most horrible thing – I was shaking like a leaf, crying my eyes out, hot flashes were happening, my stomach was upset.

But let me tell you something really quickly — I am not an attention seeker. The very last thing I want is to have all the attention on me. But that’s what happened, of course. During that panic attack, I wanted nothing more than the ground to swallow me whole. Instead, I got a group of nurses gawping at me like I was the next big attraction — they honestly had no idea what to do with me. “Stop panicking,” one of them said, “it’s no use to hyperventilate.”

Just like that, I was cured.

Just kidding, that shit never works.

We never want to feel like we’re a bother to anyone. We certainly never want to feel like a burden. But just like that, you become “the difficult patient.” I was scared out of my mind and I rang for a nurse so often — I hated myself every time I pressed that button. I fired so many questions at them: was it normal that I was shaking, was it normal that I was feeling so hot… But that is what an anxious brain does. It requires constant reassurance, and a helluva lot of patience.

This is the same in any relationship; that constant fear that you’re not good enough and they’re going to leave you. You ask “are we good?” a little more often, because you genuinely worry and need that reminding.

Or what about when you’re on a plane? Sure, these flight attendants deal with their fair share of nervous flyers, but what about full-blown panic? Do you immediately turn into “the difficult client”? Because damn it that is the last thing on Earth that you want but you can’t help it, you can’t help it.

Shall I talk about restaurants for a second, too? Having to ask for dishes “but without the…” and worrying they think you’re going to be difficult. I don’t want them to hear my request and think “there we go again” while they roll their eyes on the inside. They don’t know that I’ve had constant cramps for the past twelve years; that my anxiety is such a vicious cycle that if I’m having a bad day and eating something deemed “unsafe”, my tummy will almost instantly lash out. I don’t know how I ever got through high school, because there were days where I simply didn’t dare eat until I came home at 4 PM. (But high school is a different matter altogether and let’s not open that can of worms. We’ll be here all day.)

I don’t want to be the difficult patient or the tricky customer. I don’t want to be annoying and have all the attention on me.

I’m just doing what I have to do so as not to freak out all the time, because I am afraid of the world and I am afraid of myself. I could just really use a little extra of your patience and have you reassure me a little more while I feel uncertain.

People like me, we just need a little more kindness, that’s all.

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8 responses to “When Your Mental Health Makes You the “Difficult” Child/Patient/Client // Shattering Stigmas

  1. ahitsdina

    Oh, Inge, thank you for writing this. I know it’s not encouraged to speak of these thoughts, but I think about this so often and I feel like I’m the only one who is old and living with her mom and siblings. No job and no prospect of “getting better” and it gets kind of frustrating when my family asks “Well, do you have a backup plan?” Argh. I literally was just asked about this earlier today and it makes me mad that I’m this blob of a burden. *Sigh* In other words: I can totally relate to this post.

  2. Thank you for writing this post, Inge. <3 It really helped me feel less alone. I have social anxiety on top of other mental illnesses, so when I'm having a bad mental health day or having a panic attack, people's attention on me in those moments makes it so so so much worse. Plus, like you mentioned, it's hard not to feel guilty for all the worry you might cause your loved ones. But as you said at the end, a little extra empathy and kindness from people really is key.

  3. Inge, this post is SO freaking relatable! My parents ALWAYS told me that I’m “just too lazy”, or “being dramatic” or “want attention”. It’s like… really? Do you think THIS is what I’d want attention for!? And the people who tell you to “just calm down”… like no, lady. You don’t WANT to be throwing up and panicking, goodness. You are SO right that kindness goes such a long way. Not only is it just the right thing to do, but it also lessens anxiety, so it’s a double win! BIG hugs, love. Thank you so much for sharing this ♥♥

  4. Natalie Monroe

    *hugs* Thank you for sharing this, Inge. Pocket Natalie is always on hand if you need her. <3

  5. I love this post so much Inge and found it really relatable. I only made it through college because I lived with my family and still really struggle with being a burden on my friends and family. I also super relate to the feeling difficult when ordering food because I have an ED called ARFID where I only eat certain things so I’m always modifying dishes when I order. It’s okay though because you’re NOT difficult. You’re just you, and if you ever need reassurance I’m here for you. *hugs*

  6. Oh Inge, I feel this post so hard. My brain likes to convince me that I’m a burden too. That people won’t want to hear my problems, that they don’t care, that I’m ruining their day by sharing. I hate feeling like one, and because of that, I’ve spent a lot of my life not sharing. Not opening up to people, not showing my emotions. Sometimes I can’t help it, especially if I’m angry. But the really painful stuff? I will do everything possible to NOT cry in front of others, to not show it if I’m having a bad day. People always see me laughing and smiling, but they’ll never realize just how much it takes for me to do that. To be “on” all the time. They don’t know that sometimes, laughing is the only thing holding me together. But it doesn’t hurt people to extend a bit more patience and kindness, to give someone a minute of their time or make them feel reassured on something. It doesn’t hurt for someone to LET people be a burden every once in awhile. That’s what relationships are for: you give, but you also take when you need to. I’m SO glad that your parents are awesome about it, Inge. That you have support. But I definitely understand why that’s hard on you. *hugs* Thank you for sharing this post, lovely!

  7. Thanks for sharing this, Inge! Feeling like a burden sucks, and it can be difficult to convince your brain that most people are nice and kind and don’t think of you like that. I’m glad your parents are so supportive.

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