So obviously I haven’t been writing in here that often. I don’t want to post my daily activities on here and such (I have other non-public blogs for that), but I couldn’t for the life of me think of anything to write about. Then it came to me… how different people are with dealing with their mental illness and how functional they can or could be. Getting right down to the point of me qualifying for disability or not, you know?
Ok, so there are high functioning people with mental illness, moderately functioning people with mental illness, and low functioning people with mental illness. I consider myself high functioning unless I’m in an episode, then I’m very low functioning. I’ve seen the spectrum though, and it’s scary. I know that I was at one time or another so low-functioning I could barely leave my house and when I did, all I did was drive around aimlessly until I calmed down. To see that on other people is sad yet fascinating to me. Is that how my mother and father saw me when I was at my lowest? When I hit rock bottom?
I recently did a couple of weeks of intensive outpatient therapy that consisted of group therapy. This was where I saw all the different functioning levels of mental illness, and when I came to the conclusion that I was a high-functioning mentally ill person. High functioning to the point that I could get a job no problem. But then the stress of the job comes into play and I might slip into an episode that leaves me hanging high and dry at my job and have to quit again because of all the stress. Then I become low-functioning. When my stress levels are low, however, I’m fairly high-functioning and intelligent. And of course I can go through the middle level as well.
I’m glad for shows like Perception and now Black Box (a neurologist with Bipolar Disorder) show how people with mental illnesses can have jobs, be successful and show hope, but at the same time there are countless others with mental illness that can’t hold down a job or have to quit jobs or are just low-functioning individuals that have to live in group homes. So it’s with trepidation that I want to hold these shows up as the way it can be, when it might disadvantage some people from not getting their disability to being told that “so and so has a mental illness and he/she is fine with doing ________.” but what I will say about these two shows mentioned above is that they portray mental illness in a correct way for a high functioning adult, and both Dr. Pierce (Perception) and Dr. Black (Black Box) have their moments of weakness where you can see the true colors of their disorders and how it affects them negatively.
Basically, what I’m trying to tell you all is that every one of us is different, and you don’t have to treat us with “kid gloves” unless what you’re doing as a normal person is upsetting us to some extent. I’m glad for my dad for that. He never treated me with kid gloves and he often called me out as hiding behind my disorder (of which some times he was right and others he was wrong). What we want from you is to be treated with the same respect that you would give someone without a mental illness.
In conclusion, as someone who can see the differences between the levels of mental illness and being a high- functioning (most of the time) individual, I see how those who are low-functioning are treated with less respect and more pity. You could meet me one day and never once think I had a mental illness. But there are those people who obviously have one and you treat them differently. I’m just asking for equality for us all.