As part of World Mental Health Day, we asked Karan James, a regular visitor to Wayside, to share her experience living with mental health issues.

“I didn’t ask to be mentally ill. I always had good jobs, sometimes two or three jobs at a time. In fact, I was a workaholic. I loved jumping out of bed excited about what the day would bring and the things I would learn and the people I would meet. Then one day I woke up and life as I knew it was gone. Something traumatic happened to me and somehow I knew I would never be the same.”
Karen James
“Going from a happy-go-lucky workaholic to a sad, pathetic creature who hated most people, and didn’t trust the ones I did like, was traumatising all over again. I lost my house, my child, my jobs and everything I owned, but the worst thing I lost was my mind.”

“People see the outside me but they don’t actually ‘see’ the real me. Behind the sadness in my eyes is a person looking for someone to trust and someone to care about me even though I don’t care about myself. I’m not looking for someone to understand me, because no one will ever understand; I’m looking for someone to accept that I have changed and be patient while I try to make sense of what my life has become.”

“People think I’m doing nothing to help myself but I see a psychologist, a psychiatrist and I take medication daily. Just because you don’t see these things doesn’t mean they aren’t happening.”

“Give me a smile when you see me and say hi as you walk past. Don’t pretend I’m not there. Ignoring me makes me feel worse and it reminds me that I’m not acceptable in your world. I’m no different to you other than the fact that a trauma I will never understand was inflicted on me. I love and I feel pain, pleasure, happiness, sadness – all the usual emotions – just like you do but because I have borderline personality and PTSD, I feel these emotions in a different way.”

“Please look at me and see past the out-of-ordinary behaviour because underneath the shell is a human being. People behave badly because they feel badly. If you make people feel good, you are contributing to the healing we so desperately seek. People may not remember what you said or did to them but they will always remember the way you made them feel. Make sure people remember you for the right reasons.”

You can help support Karan and many others like her by making a donation to The Wayside Chapel.

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