Mental illness is a very major topic that a lot of people are ignorant of, which makes it all the more difficult for those who do have it. As someone with a mental disorder, I can assure you that most people don’t give a shit about your situation or are willing enough to try to understand.
I have both social anxiety and generalized anxiety disorder, which was never treated or found out until I was in National Service (NS). When I was young, people assumed I was just a shy kid, but I knew that wasn’t it and I didn’t know how to say it. It just continued into my teenage years, and here’s the thing with people with illness, we know how to keep it in check by avoiding situations that trigger it.
In my position, all I had to do was avoid people and avoid being in situations that I couldn’t handle. I became good at it, very good to the point where people assumed I was this angry kid who didn’t know how to be friendly or smile. When in reality, I was regularly assessing my environment for any possible triggers that could make me feel less safe being there.
I never exactly knew what the problem was with me until I got into NS and screwed up my first guard duty by freezing up completely while finding it hard to breathe. Things escalated quickly from there, and I was diagnosed with anxiety. And I must say, NS took my mental illness quite seriously and did everything they could to help me with coping my time there. Which is weird, considering the real world outside of NS did not give a damn about my condition.
I can tell you that most interviewers are the dumbest people out there. I wasn’t ashamed of my anxiety, and I did not wish to hide it from anyone. I wore it like armour because it was who I was. And because of that, I witnessed how pitiful people can be during job interviews.
Most were ignorant, trying to downplay it without even understanding what it was, and some were even rude to the point they would make it sound like it was nothing by comparing it to being an introvert. Others even blatantly told me to keep it quiet because I looked fine when I was talking to them.
None of them understood that anxiety had triggers just like most mental illness, and hiding about them is what made people ignorant about it in the first place. These kinds of experiences tend to make life a lot worse for someone with a disorder.
For me, most of my anxiety comes out as anger and remains in as repressed rage. There is no cure for this, only a better environment could make things better, and this world isn’t it.
And so here I am at the end of the day, completely cut off from people in a job that lets me work from home while my anxiety and rage are in check. It’s a lonely life to be sure, but one that was not decided by me.