“I’m fine.” I say these words more than a normal person would. I’d bet on it. Unfortunately, most of the time I say them, I’m really not fine. Things aren’t going well, and something is probably eating me from the inside out. Mostly because this is my constant state of being. Thing is, most people don’t know. They can’t… I’m very good at disguise. And so are the many other people in this world with mental illness who don’t want to burden their friends or loved ones with everything that is going on inside them.
There are a few that can see behind the curtains, though, and I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m kinda terrified of them. It’s like being naked. And while part of me always wants people to know what I’m going through, I don’t at the same time. It’s a part of me that I want to hide.
I can write about different mental health things that I’ve experienced or exist too. That’s impersonal. I’m not talking to you about the things my mind is experiencing in real time. It’s an edited version of what happened. My mind isn’t like SNL. And when I do bring up things that are going on in real time, even THAT is edited.
So the next time a friend or family member of yours with a mental illness says “I’m fine,” they probably aren’t. BUT… they’re good enough to fake it for your sake.
For many of us in the mental health community, medication compliance is a real issue. I’ve heard in recent days from different sources that some people have no problem taking their medication at the same time every day, not miss, and are very strict about their regime; that there are people (like me) who basically take their meds at the same time every day, yet miss occasionally and still keep to their regime; people who know they have to take their medication but tend to forget to do it unless reminded; people who know they have to take their medication but hate it, sometimes having to be forced to take it; those people who don’t necessarily know that they have to take medication but understand why when given it; ones to don’t know why they have to take medication and don’t know why when given it; the people who refuse medication because it changes them; people who refuse medication because they don’t believe they are sick. The range is stunning. And of course, those who stop taking meds because they are “better.”
It took me years to get where I am with my medication. Firstly, I didn’t think it was necessary. Then I thought it wasn’t working. Then there was the time that I was given the wrong medication. The time when I took myself off meds, flew into a mania, stopped going to one of my jobs, and spent all of my money on drugs. When I was under-medicated. When I was over-medicated. I could go on.
I’ve been with my current psychiatrist for almost 6 years now. We saw each other after lithium toxicity put me in the hospital for almost 2 weeks. 2 weeks that I don’t remember. In these 6 years, I’ve been on so many different medications than I can count, trying to find the right balance for my own specific needs. Each visit gets better. For awhile there were no changes (this was recent). My last visit 2 weeks ago I had to have a dose of one of my pills added at night to prevent very distressing symptoms which I lovingly called “crazy brain.” It’s helped tremendously, and I’m calling him back up tomorrow to get it changed to a higher dose to correct it completely (he told me I might need a higher dose because of what was happening to me and to try it if I didn’t think the smaller dose was doing it. He was right.).
Anyway, the basis of this is that other than those who can’t be convinced that they’re even sick, medication is a terrible game of ups and downs until you can find a balance where you feel “normal” (whatever that is… there’s a different normal for all of us, I suppose). I often don’t talk about meds I’m on necessarily unless someone else divulges or someone is taking one of the same meds I take. Mostly this is because the amount of medication I’m on. There are times, of course, when ignorant people tell me I’m being lazy by not going to work or that I can’t possibly have the disorder I “claim” to have. Those times I want to throw my pill box at them and tell them how many meds I take, what each one of them is for… that there are TWO anti-psychotics, one which has an extended release and a standard release and that I take both. Where I want to scream and tell these people that I wouldn’t take all this shit unless I HAD to. It’s very frustrating.
So for those still in the dance (I’m still on the dance floor, just standing a little stiller) of medication trials, I want to say there is hope. There are medications out there for you. Don’t count out adding or switching meds… it might help more than you think. And if you think you’re on too much or that the side effects are too great, tell your doctor. It will get better.
Alright, so, I attempted to do the updates on certain days, etc., but I think that I’m going to stick with a random format. This is, ultimately, a mental health blog, and I’m paying for the damn domain, I should be using it. So I’m going to try to use it almost daily depending on what I want to/can talk about. I’m really thinking I still want to have a music Monday, though, because I’ve been obsessive about finding new stuff to the point where I can’t listen to all of it. Let’s just say if someone would have told me I would’ve been listening to Khalid last night (and enjoying it), I would’ve said they were crazy. Stay tuned for tomorrow (or next week, who knows!) for the song of the week!.
Lately I’ve been doing quite well mentally thanks to an additional dose of seroquel in the evenings. Previously, I was having a quite strange feeling at night around 8ish where I would feel wired, but tired, not able to concentrate, and my brain would be going a mile a minute. It was so much hell that I had been taking my bedtime Seroquel XR at 7pm to stave it off. Luckily, once I finally got into the doctor’s office we talked about it and the extra dose was actually my idea because the afternoon dose was basically doing it for that time. He thought it was a good idea, and for the last couple of weeks it’s definitely been helping. I do think, however, I need an additional dose, which he actually mentioned before I left the office, and that just to call the office if I felt like I needed the extra dose. All good.
I’m glad my mental health is, overall, cooperating with the world. There will, however, still be things for me to talk about on here, I’m sure. It’s definitely going to be more than a personal journal. I wanted to be all special, but unfortunately that put expectations on me that scared me and then I fell behind and couldn’t up and use it like I wanted to anymore. So… welcome all!
Thin vs. Stable
We live in a society today where “thin” is beautiful and the words mental illness are filled with all sorts of stigma. There are people who are considered “thin” and also mentally stable. They’re lucky, I suppose. People don’t realize this, but 1 in 4 adults lives with a mental illness, and that is just based on the number of people who actually seek help. And another thing most people don’t realize is that most psychiatric medications (especially the newer anti-psychotics) are prone to cause weight gain.
So what is it? Thin or stable? Accepted by society by the way you look, but looked down upon when you show any signs of mental illness? Or looked down upon for the way you look, but commended for how reliable and stable you are? The pressures of society push at you from both sides and you have to decide which side will win.
It’s easy for those of us with a mental illness to say “I want to be stable” because when we’re not, living is some sort of hell. But then, we start taking our meds to become that stable person and our bodies start to change. People start to notice as we put on weight. We have to go buy new clothes because our old ones don’t fit, and our self-esteem plummets. We work out and watch what we eat, but nothing seems to work. What was that thing about wanting to be stable, you wonder?
So we start chipping away at our medication, hoping something will get us back to “looking good” until we realize that the stability we had is slipping away. So we try to catch ourselves and try to get it back, but that comes with the weight gain again.
So what would you do? Me? I’ve done both. And stability far outweighs society’s need to be “thin.” And, remember, thin doesn’t always mean healthy either.
Well, for some reason yesterday (Thursday) images weren’t loading. So I tried again today. Here’s yesterday’s entry for Therapy Thursday.
Today I’m going to touch on the subject of social anxiety (also called social phobia). Social anxiety manifests itself differently in people, but there are a few classic signs that are usually present.
With social anxiety, there is an extreme fear of social situations and high levels of anxiety. Many feel self-conscious and even embarrassment because of the fear of judgement. These things can lead to disruptions in one’s life including work, school, and other activities. It’s important to remember that this is not normal levels of anxiety such as a job interview or just meeting new people for instance. Social phobia interferes with your whole life.
I, myself live with social anxiety, and the following do reflect a lot of what I deal with on a day to day basis. I have learned coping skills, however, and am on medication, so it has eased a bit, but it will never go away.
A few signs you or someone you know may be living with social phobia are:
- thinking you ight embarrass or humiliate yourself
- fear of judgement
- Avoiding things because of embarrassment fears
- Getting anxious before events
- Analyzing your behavior after a social ituation including things you might have done wrong, any obvious flaws, etc.
- Avoiding anything that may put you at the center of attention
- Expecting the worst possible outcome in any social situation
There are also physical symptoms that can occur, but that’s a whole other blog entry, as it deals with another disorder too.
Any comments or questions? Feel free!