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  • joannaburridge

But you look so well!!...

I'm sure we have all heard that a few times before! Or slightly different versions such as 'well as long as you look alright, it doesn't matter what you feel like inside'. (Yep, true story) Or the person who 'helpfully' recommends a 'magic ingredient' that will make us feel such a lot better. Or the comparison with someone they knew who 'coped so well'.

Sometimes we assume things about a person's physical and mental state because of what we can see. For example, if someone has their arm or leg in a cast or sling, it's reasonable to assume they've broken a bone. And we may well have an image or stereotype of what a depressed or anxious person looks like. They'll be looking a bit sad. Right?

Well not exactly. As a counsellor I work with people who may be struggling with their mental health in different ways. But it might not be immediately obvious in what way they are struggling. Some physical illnesses aren't obvious either, there are a lot of 'invisible illnesses' both physical and mental that are hidden.

And as a person living with chronic illness myself, I understand that there's often a lot of overlapping stuff where they can impact on each other, so it's often an area I support my clients in.

We can feel under pressure from others - we should be getting better by now, or we don't want to disappoint someone or let them down. Guilt and shame can be in abundance. Instead of pacing ourselves or declining a request, we agree to everything and then afterwards collapse in a heap for a few days because we have overdone it.

Looking at the picture above , we apparently see a person smiling broadly. We might well assume that they are happy. But, I'm wondering what's really behind that image. Often we may well 'plaster on a smile' whilst keeping our chins up. But really we could be masking what we are really experiencing. It can take time to judge how to share what we are feeling - physically and mentally. And that's okay. If we can find the right support , it can really help us come to terms with what we are going through. We might find we see others a bit differently too.

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