Being diagnosed with having a mental illness is not the hard part. Sometimes it’s the odd, strange side effects and symptoms that appear weird and off putting to others. Trying to hide some of these things is the hardest part of living with it.

1. Picking My Fingers

I put bandaids on my thumbs sometimes, because my anxiety can get so bad that I just pick and pick. I will pick without even realizing I’m doing it. I will even put on fake nails (from the local drug store… god forbid a nail salon sees them) just so I am unable to pick at my fingertips. When I’m out, I will hide them with bandaids because it sucks being asked “what happened?” or “what did I do to my fingers.” It’s not always like this, but when it is, it’s ugly and it isn’t something I enjoy talking about. I have OCD. Yes, I’m aware it is gross.

2. Maintaining full Eye Contact

I’m not trying to be rude, though I know that is how I come off. I have to try so hard sometimes to look interested and inclined as I’m listening to someone. I’ll think, am I looking away too much? Or am I staring too much? Do I look normal when I am saying what I’m saying? Etc… Again, I don’t always have this problem, but when I’m having an episode, especially when I’m depressed, it is so hard for me to maintain eye contact. Sometimes I just look down. I can’t help it. The fact that I’m overthinking while having a conversation with someone sometimes sucks! I do care!

3. Shaking and Fidgeting

I shake due to some of my meds. Sometimes it looks like I am trembling. I have no control over it. It isn’t always noticeable, but when it is, I usually just say I’m cold. I fidget a lot. I don’t even care how ridiculous it looks anymore. I have ADHD, I don’t take meds for that every day because I don’t need to, so I’m sorry I can’t sit still.

4. Sweating

Sometimes I sweat a lot due to anxiety. Even if I’m feeling fine, sometimes I’ll just be sweating, so I will wear a flannel or something so no one can see my armpits. I’ve dealt with the sweating on and off for a long time. Yes I have showered. No I did not just run a mile. No I do not stink. I’m just anxious and I am wired to be sweaty. No, I don’t have hyperhidrosis, I have asked. I sweat during bipolar episodes, especially when I am feeling manic.

5. Problems Speaking

I trip over my words all the time. My speech gets jumbled, I have to think about what I say before I even say what I’m trying to say. It is much easier for me to write than it is to talk. So if I’m texting you instead of talking to you on the phone, that’s why. Sometimes I’ll say something and forget what I was trying to say altogether. I’m smart, but sometimes when I’m speaking I get so embarrassed because I will seemingly lose my vocabulary. That is one of the hardest things I deal with. I have so much to say, I know what I want to say, but I can’t articulate it. Speaking is really hard if I am manic. I speak a million miles an hour and I know you don’t care what I have to say. Sorry, I’m just elated. Just know I’m trying to calm down and I am aware of how ridiculous I may sound. I’m not trying to annoy you and it’s not my fault. I wish I could be a public speaker. I want to get better at verbally articulating myself. I feel like I’d be taken more seriously.

6. Shutting Down

When I get overwhelmed I just shutdown. I know I’m supposed to be doing something productive, but I will just be sitting down away from all the noise, responsibilities and stresses until I can calm myself down. I will not allow myself to have a meltdown trying to complete a task. I know my limitations.

7. Forgetting Things

Some medications have side effects that cause short term memory loss. I didn’t purposely put something off or procrastinate. I literally don’t remember and sometimes I need to be reminded. I feel like the guy in the movie Memento. If you’ve seen it, you’ll understand. I write a lot of notes on top of notes. If it’s important, I set alarms.

8. Isolating Myself

I will isolate myself from social situations entirely from time to time. I’ll ghost people and for that I am very sorry. I don’t have many friends because it is difficult for me to be social, especially when I become depressed.

9. When I Can’t Get Out of Bed

When I tell you I can’t get out of bed I mean it. I’m depressed. I snooze my 9am alarm until I just turn it off at 11am, and I won’t get up until I know I have to at least brush my teeth. When I am extremely depressed, I can stay in bed all day. Thankfully, that doesn’t happen so much anymore.

10. Needing Help With Mundane Tasks

Don’t point out that I need to do something when I obviously know I need to do it, but I can’t because I have bad anxiety that day. Just help me out. Most days I’m totally capable of taking care of things. Other days I don’t even know how to take out the trash, or even drive myself somewhere. It’s as though I’m having tunnel vision on days where it seems impossible to do anything that requires responsibility.