at first I went around in circles in my head wondering if I should write about my life with mental illness on here or if it would just be too much for me to handle. I finally decided that I could write about it in an awkward sense and it wouldn’t suffer my head too much. As for letting the world of Facebook and Twitter know about the post, well… I have fears that my life may be exposed too much, but there are so many upsides to talking about your mental illness.
Too many people have differing views on the mentally ill and it’s just something you “don’t talk about.” I mean, with depression becoming so mainstream now, it’s a subject that’s hard not to talk about in an abstract sense. What I want people to know is that beneath every form of mental illness there is a human person with feelings, goals, dreams and an all-consuming need to be normal.
Now on to me, I guess. For years I have dealt well with my illness until at the age of 31 it destroyed my life. I am diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type. for those of you who don’t know what that is (which is probably most of you), it’s both a mood disorder and a thought disorder. Wherein, I have bipolar disorder where I get depressed and then manic I also have a piece of me that acts like schizophrenia where I hear and see things that aren’t there, get paranoid, think people are after me, etc. They can be co-current where I have a mood episode (like mania) and also be hearing things that aren’t there. Or it can be separate. I could just be having a mood disorder or I could just be having a thought disorder. This is a recent diagnosis for me as for most of my life I was labeled Bipolar I with psychotic symptoms and Borderline Personality. This diagnoses fits me much better and I feel that in my heart.
As I said, for years I controlled this illness with medication and sometimes short episodes of short term disability from my job. Then I got laid off at the age of 30. I went into a depression of sorts that left me all bent out of shape. I even had another mentally ill girl tell me to get over my problems because hers were so much worse. By the by, don’t ever tell a mentally ill person that, especially one not on medication because she can’t afford health insurance. I got laid off in August and by February, right before my 31st birthday I had a mini breakdown where I couldn’t not be on medication anymore, so I looked into resources to help me out and found a place I could go. They kept with my original bipolar and borderline diagnosis and gave me samples for the meds that I couldn’t afford and kept me from going off the deep end. One was seroquel, which has an anti-psychotic element to it.
So I was back on track and in June was even offered a job that I thought could really get me places. Little did I know that this would be the job that would stress me out so much I’d have to go to the mental ward of a hospital for the first time ever. That was in September. This job was so stressful that I went and had a psychotic break. I worked through it. Wherever I was, whatever customer I was dealing with, I was terrified that they would hurt me or kill me even. I saw people turn into demons. There were voices in my head telling me I was worthless and I didn’t have any friends. So in December of my 31st year of life I handed in a letter of resignation without a backup plan or anywhere to get money.
Luckily, I got unemployment because I left under medical reasons and was even able to pick up my cobra insurance from the company so I could continue to see my doctors. Then I went on public assistance because I wasn’t making enough through unemployment to pay for both my medical insurance and my car. I got the public assistance, which has been a godsend and dropped my cobra. This was a year’s worth of unemployment, trying to pay bills and manage my illness at the same time. About the time I got the medical assistance I was taken to the hospital with lithium toxicity. I apparently was there for 9 days. I remember 2 of those and don’t even remember coming home. I had to switch psychiatrists and therapists too because I was on medicaid. That was stressful to me, but it has helped greatly in my gaining my inner peace back which was gone for about a year or more by that time. My unemployment ran out and my car was eventually repossessed, but I’m at more peace in my life than I have ever been for years.
Unfortunately, this past year and few months has cost me greatly. My illness has caused me severe anxiety and has kept me home from many a party that my friends have thrown, probably causing them to think I will never show up for an event anymore and losing their friendships. I couldn’t even gather the stamina to go visit anyone one on one either. Losing more friendships. I had such a great group of friends and now I only have a couple to turn to. Ones that have come visit me every weekend or would randomly call me to just see how I was doing. I’m at peace again, but I have no idea if I could ever work again. Any type of stress causes me to revert back to what I was going through at my old job.
I take a menagerie of pills, I get anxious when I’m not at home, sometimes I wear earmuffs around the house to distract me from loud noises, I miss my friends terribly, I’m awkward at conversation, I’m broke, I smoke cigarettes to distract me, I miss the old me…
That’s my story. I’m a human being who went through a little bit of hell and came out the other side a bit more defective than before. I still have hopes and dreams, but they’re toned down a lot. I still want to meet that person who completes me and I have a small inkling of hope that I’ll get my friends back. Until then, though, know that I am at peace with my illness and that I hope one day that the world will understand.