Wednesday, December 16, 2015

I'm Not Ashamed Of My Mental Illness

Let's be honest, it's not something to be proud of, either. It's not like someone with Diabetes or Muscular Dystrophy goes around saying, "Hey! Look at me! I have an illness! Look at me, look at me, I'm so cool!" I'm not saying that.

What I am saying is that having a mental illness makes me determined to be open, to talk about it, to discuss what I go through.

Well, ok, I process externally so I tend to type up most everything I'm feeling anyway. Once I hit the 'publish' button and send it out into the nether to be read or ignored, the thoughts are no longer bouncing around inside my head.

Talking about the onset of my BiPolar Type 2 / BiPolar Depression, Anxiety, Psyche Ward stay, visits with my psychiatrist, and suicide attempt, are ways for me to cope. So really, this blog and my posts aren't honestly for anyone else; it's to help me process.

So why do I make it public instead of private? Because communicating is sooooo helpful. I'm a little strange that way.

I have found that most others who struggle with the same thing or different variations of these illnesses feel that there isn't anyone who understands.

Do you know why they feel that way? Because people who have never had clinical depression or anxiety have NO IDEA what it is like. I know this, because I'd never, ever, ever had it, nor understood it until I went through post-partum depression after my son was born. Two years of post-partum. That sucked. It was wonderful when that was over!!

The year I turned 40, the mad chemist experimenting inside my brain decided to switch things up on a more permanent basis. This sudden onset was/is not a pleasant one. I say sudden because I was privileged to live most of my life of working and having babies with a normal, healthy, robust amount of energy. I have met and know several people who have struggled with depression their entire lives.


I cannot even comprehend living with this, trying to manage this while working - sometimes two jobs - finishing my degrees, and having small children.

These folks do it silently, with few people who understand, listen, or help when needed. They struggle with adulting while dealing with the guilt of not being capable of basic things when it's a really bad day.

They are heroes in my eyes. Do you hear me? HEROES!!!

I fell apart after a year and needed to be hospitalized. I was trying to claw the skin off my face because the pain was the only thing connecting me to reality. After another year, I really did attempt suicide. Coping with the onset of anxiety along with the depression was simply too much. TWO YEARS.  Two years, and I couldn't handle it. Still am attempting to manage it.

So these folks who've lived with it for their whole lives? HEROES. I'm not even kidding.

Some are absolutely ashamed to talk about their mental health or their hospitalizations. Some simply cannot admit that there is an issue because they feel like they should be able to control it.

--- This one was me. I spent a good six or seven months convinced it was some sort of early menopause. My doctor ran just about every blood test possible, checking my hormone levels, my thyroid, the levels of vitamins and minerals in my system, etc. I was convinced that I could talk myself out of it or fix it with every naturepathic or homeopathic strategy I knew.

Nope. Depression. After three or four months of therapy and some low doses of temporary meds, diagnosed with BiPolar depression. No more temporary meds for me. Mood stabilizers AND anti-depressants with some Xanex on the side became necessary. In spite of every alternative health trick I knew. Wahoo. Boy, that went over well with my family. NOT. ---

I need you to realize that some cannot talk about it openly because of private personal reasons. And others simply don't feel safe discussing it with anyone.

This one right there? This is horrible and awful and sooo lonely. Understandable, though, because of the prevalent attitude. You know, the one saying that people who are depressed are using it as an excuse to be lazy. Should just cheer themselves up and get over it. Or claiming anxiety to get out of doing something they just didn't want to do.

*frustrated sigh*

I am one of the very few willing to talk openly about my experiences, my honest thoughts, or the massive grumpy days I have. Currently I have been in a horrible mood for nearly two weeks. Everyone frustrates me, I feel like they're all jerks and inconsiderate. Most of that is me, I know, but it's how I'm feeling.

Logic part of my brain says "don't interact with people right now. At least not the ones you love. Just hug them tight and keep your mouth shut. You get paid to be nice to people at work, so the pretend happy face works there. Wish you could keep pretending at home."

Illogical part of my brain says, "Who cares. Everyone can just go to hell. I want to move and live by myself out in the boonies where I don't have to see anyone, hear anyone, or have anyone getting into my stuff, move it around, break it, or whatever else is making me feel picked on."

Am I ashamed of these thoughts? Well, if I were, I wouldn't be typing them up here. Do I wish I could turn them off? oh yeah.

What I *can* do about these feelings that I cannot control is try to interrupt the tape. I kiss on of my kids' neck up and down until they giggle like mad. Or hug them tight for several minutes. I read out loud. I do anything I can to distract myself and concentrate on anything BUT the thoughts and feelings.

You who don't know Depression don't have a clue how hard it is to have to continue to interrupt these stupid stupid destructive thoughts that run in a loop.

Depression LIES, but it is oh so believable.

I need you to understand this. Those of us who struggle with Depression have our super awful bad days. It's such a fight to get out of bed. And some days that's the only battle we win. If our sinks are full of dishes, the floors not swept or vacuumed, it doesn't mean we don't care about living in a yucky environment. Oh, trust me, we care very much.

A depressive's messy house means one of two things: 1 - There are a bunch of kids living there and it's laughable to even think of summoning the energy to reinforce daily chores.

2 - Looking at the mess and seeing all that needs to be done is overwhelming. Knowing where to start is simply impossible and makes us cry. Summoning the energy to pick up a pair of socks and carry it to the laundry basket is hopeless.We feel guilty and horrible because any normal human being should be able to do something so simple. So we sit and stare at those socks and wish we could do it, wondering what the hell is wrong with us that we can't even do that simple little thing.

And anxiety? It's the weight of an elephant sitting on your chest, the pain of drawing in a breath, panic caused by ... ?? something?? People? some thought? Noise? What the heck triggered this?? And then can't breathe, can't breathe, can't breathe, curling up, shaking, then sobbing uncontrollably for AN HOUR!!

Ok? YOU PEOPLE WHO HAVE NEVER EVER EVER IN YOUR LIFE EXPERIENCED THIS?? Shut up about us folks with these types of mental illness being lazy. Just stop it. Right now.

This is real. I struggle with this.

I am not ashamed of the symptoms of this illness because they're real. Are you ashamed for having a runny nose when you have a cold? Or a raspy voice when you have a bronchial infection? I'm not proud of my symptoms; oh, they are so very frustrating.

Trust me, I'll tell you up front if I'm being lazy about cleaning, or just can't do it. Believe it or not, I DO recognize the difference. One involves the inability to summon motivation and energy. The other is simply not wanting to do it.

When I don't want to do work I hear my grandmother's or my mother's voice telling me "Sometimes you just have to do what you don't want to do."

Being incapable of doing the work means having to tell those voices to shut the hell up, because ranting at myself won't help me feel any better. It certainly won't make the weight of the world go away or prevent the fog of darkness from jumbling my thoughts so I can't concentrate.

Do you understand? This is my reality.

I have received so many messages, emails, phone calls, and visits from people who just wanted to talk about their struggles. Who couldn't believe that I'd talk openly - in church, for crying out loud, or on Facebook - about my constant fight. One woman was having such issues with anxiety that going to church was hard for her. Her husband didn't understand at all, and she was so worried that she was the only one suffering. She cried on the phone as we talked about it because she was so relieved that someone understood.

You guys. It is sad and heartbreaking that people don't feel safe discussing this issue. That we are considered weak. Trust me, we're not. As often as I've complained that I *feel* weak, I'm smart enough to know that because I'm still here, still fighting, and still attempting to be the best mom I can be, that I'm NOT weak.

And hey, dr. laura? I am so very, very angry at you for convincing my mother that my illness is made-up by big pharma to sell more drugs. Thanks for that. Means a lot. (Nope, not capitalizing your name.)


  1. Thank you! This means and helps a lot. And, commas, are, awesome. Ahh punctuation Nazi come get me. :)

    1. hahah, Yes, I am in love with commas. It seems I automatically type them when I stop to think how to appropriately finish a sentence. Every single time I re-read this I find more.

      Love you :)