I wonder how many people reading this are thinking, 'anxiety disorders? I'm totally aware!
obsessive compulsive disorder? I know exactly what that entails!'
I wonder how many of you have labelled yourselves or others as OCD because you/they like to clean or are very organised.
*insert eye roll*
I wonder how many have taken one of the 'fun' quizzes available on social media that asks 'How OCD are you?' And shared it as though it were on par with a quiz that asks 'How well do you know musicals?'
If you've done this then you are really NOT aware. Yes, you know what the illness is. What the letters stand for. But your idea of the condition is that it's something quirky.
Tell me, would you take a quiz and share it on Facebook if was entitled 'How Cerebral Palsy Are You?'
Of course you wouldn't! Because not only would it be ridiculous, it would also be highly offensive!
So why is it acceptable to do this in regards to mental illness?
On Mental Health Awareness Week I want to tell you that anxiety disorders are not positive, quirky or fun, and they're certainly not diagnosable through Facebook. They're debilitating.
I don't feel very positive when my mind bombards me with horrific scenarios that dance around in my head and won't give me any peace.
I don't find myself very quirky when my hands are cracked and bleeding because I've washed them that much. Not because I like to be clean but just simply because my mind tells me I have to, or there will be consequences.
I don't think the father of my children finds me very fun when I'm snappy and irrational and need constant reassurance from him that nothing bad is going to happen.
And my condition wasn't diagnosed through a two minute quiz. It was years of darkness, tears, embarrassment, pain, counselling, antidepressants and beta blockers before I knew 'how OCD I was.'
I'm embarrassed when I have to walk back to my house a number of times before I can leave my street, because my mind is telling me I've forgotten to check things that could cause harm.
I'm exhausted when I constantly have a knot in my gut, as though something terrible is about to happen and I have no control. I'm even more exhausted when I have to explain my actions to people because they view me as being "silly" or "overdramatic."
I'm ashamed when I hear people make reference to a condition as though it were just some sort of personality trait.
If I can achieve anything throughout Mental Health Awareness Week, I hope I can help to open people's eyes, hold people's tongues and widen people's understanding.
Don't be ignorant with your basic knowledge of pop psychology. Don't throw my condition around lightheartedly in conversation.
Don't underestimate just how challenging, inconsistent and incomprehensible this illness can be.
Instead, understand that we are constantly fighting a battle with ourselves. On the outside we are parents, colleagues, cousins, friends. We may be chatty, funny, friendly, silly. We may not. Some of us wear disguises. Some of us don't. We are unable.
But before you take that quiz. Before you throw out a casual statement, remember we are people fighting real battles. And we need a few more people on our side.