I don’t know how often I complain on my blog. Probably more than I think I do, but I’m not sure if I’ve ever just written one long crazy rant for the purpose of pure venting. Perhaps I need to do it to disguise my confessions really. I don’t know. But lately, I’m just not feeling good. I’m depressed, I’m in pain, and I’m so tired that it’s honestly hard to believe.
No one wants to talk about mental illness. No one ever did. Even I don’t want to. There’s so much shame involved in it. Why is that? Why should I have all this shame about it? I get so sick of it sometimes. I get sick of having shame about physical illness too. Sometimes I’m not sure which is happening to me in the moment because physical and mental illness are so interconnected.
Because I feel like no one wants to hear about it, I try to keep it all bottled in. No one wants to come off like a complainer. That’s what it all sounds like, right? Complaints. You’re not sharing the information. Not in the eyes of the listener. And people think you want them to feel sorry for you. So it’s best just to shut up about it. Keep it under wraps. Lord knows what people think of those with mental illness anyway. We all know that people that don’t have it don’t want to deal with it. Many people don’t even believe it really exists! Put some St. John’s wort on it!
I have a hard time talking about my disabilities because I have issues around not being believed. I know this comes from my childhood and my parents. That’s just something I have going on for deeper reasons and more personal situations. I also had a hell of a time getting diagnosed with my physical disabilities in the first place. I went to several doctors – neurologists – that argued back and forth about the newer criteria on my MS diagnosis. It took a while and some doctors believed it was Lupus. Lo and behold it ended up I had both! That’s pretty hard to believe, but there it is. It’s actually even more complicated than that, but that’s enough in terms of sharing, isn’t it??
Aside from that, it took me decades to accept that I had mental illness, despite the fact that my mother had it severely, and her mother before. I did NOT want to be anything like my mom. I did not want to accept it, and for years and years, I suffered in a black hole before I got any kind of real help. I lived dangerously close to dying – many many times – totally despite the fact that I watched my mom attempt suicide countless times growing up. I was so anti-psychiatry back then, I couldn’t look at the facts. I would not accept that she stopped threatening suicide when Prozac first came on the market and she began to take it after her last attempt around 1994. It really saved her life. But I could not and would not accept it. All I knew was that psychiatry was making her worse, and I thought these thoughts since I was six.
She was on a cocktail of other stuff her whole life, the usual: Lithium, anti-psychotics, benzos, Elavil, etc., even shock therapy. But that alone was not working until they threw Prozac into the mix. Nowadays shock therapy is not used on bipolar patients and it was pretty dangerous to use it on them back when they did. SSRIs are so over prescribed, or became so over prescribed, that I never wanted any part of them. And the same went for the medicines they wanted to give me for my physical disabilities too. I was just so anti-medicine. I mean, I was stubborn! And scared. My body and mind were breaking down, but I was just ignoring it all and trying to keep a positive “mind-over-matter” attitude. I finally had to give in and I went into a shame spiral because I HAD to take all the meds. It meant that I was no longer in control of my own body. That really pissed me off.
In your 20s, I suppose you feel invincible. I was just in my early 30s when all this went down, so it was all very hard to accept and I still had this idea in my head that I could control it all with sheer will. Magical thinking it was really. And I have to admit, I still feel shame to this day, like I am weak for having to succumb to modern medicine. It makes it all so much more “real.” I thought that if I disagreed with it all, it would never be real. I really thought that. But mind you, I had/have mental illness too. I’d say that was not so much magical thinking as it was manic thinking. Now I know better. It’s just still hard to navigate.
Everything isn’t all hunky-dory now that I take my medicine like a good little girl. It’s better than if I didn’t take it. I still have a ton to “complain” about (obviously), but I try not to. I mean, am I supposed to join one of those support groups where we all sit in a circle jerk and vent about how bad it all is? Life is not that bad, considering. And I already feel bad that I have little outbursts around mjp, which are not even a fraction of what I truly feel. Not even a teeny, tiny bit of how I really feel. But I can see how annoying it is to listen too, or how helpless a person can feel hearing any smidgen of it. What are they supposed to do? If you guys feel helpless, Jesus Christ, can you imagine what those of us with this stuff going on must feel? Not that you should also feel it, but it would be nice to get a few listeners out there that don’t judge us. Then again, maybe they don’t judge us. We are judging ourselves.
It’s just that society still has such a negative opinion of people with mental illness. I can tell you about a few different things I have run into when I have disclosed my bipolar disorder to people. It’s a whole different view they have of you, and you begin to think they are right. Maybe I am not a stable person – or much less stable than a person that is not bipolar. Maybe I am less responsible, dependable, professional, organized, etc. I’ve been judged harshly in these areas. But these things are just not true of me. It’s hard to overcome the preconceived notions that society has on you. You’re working against the tide.
But I’m not saying that life is so bad. It’s not. I actually love my life. It’s just that lately I’ve been wanting to vent about this stuff and about how insanely tired I’ve been. I mean crushing, crippling fatigue where I can’t even keep my eyes open. I can hardly work sometimes. And not working makes me depressed, which makes me more tired. I also beat myself up when I’m not working. I panic when I’m not working. I have panic anyway and I worry about needless things. It’s all part of it. The medication doesn’t fix every single aspect of every single problem I have. It’s all still there for me to deal with in therapy.
My sleeping issues suck butt though. I’m either sleeping all day, or up all night. My schedule has been coo-coo for CoCo Puffs. I’ve been practically narcoleptic during the daytime. And to add to this stress, I have one person out there – someone I don’t even talk to anymore – that adds weight on my heart. Just because I love her and miss her but can’t stand her. She’s like a ghost that haunts me, kind of like my mother, only worse in a way. You’d think not talking to her would help, and it does. It’s better than having her in my life, but I hear from her every now again about how I’ve “abandoned” her. It takes everything I have inside me not to reply and tell her how she abandoned me with her constant abuse in the friendship. Not that the whole 35 years were like that, just the last two…so now I’m not just complaining, I’m airing my dirty laundry too! Great.
Stress is the number one factor in exacerbating an MS attack or a Lupus flare up, not to mention bipolar cycling. I’m supposed to keep my life as stress free as possible, and I try my best. I try to say “no” to things I know will just stress me out or add to my already full schedule, or give me extra panic, and it doesn’t take much. Driving on the freeway gives me panic. Major panic. There was even a time where I couldn’t drive at all for more than two years! I don’t ever want it to get that bad again – being stuck in the house. I have to force myself to get in the car and drive places I don’t want to go and just deal with it sometimes, even if I have to pull over a bunch of times and catch my breath now and again.
You see how flawed I am? I have a lot going on over here. It’s not all roses and rainbows, and it sucks that I haven’t been able to just vent about it.
I haven’t vented because, well, I’m es-scared. I’m scared that I will push people away, what they will think about me, what they will say in response, how they will perceive me, that they will chalk me up to just being plain “crazy,” and I will lose all of the respect (if I ever had any) that I’ve built. But then again, I’ve been so honest thus far, why shouldn’t I just continue along the same road? I claim to be a risk-taker and I should put my money where my mouth is. If this entry isn’t candid, I don’t know what is.
All I know is that while it feels good to get this stuff off my chest, it also takes a fair bit of courage to publish this thing publicly. So here it is.