Things I Want to Tell People About My Specific Mental Illness

Anyone with mental illness knows that there is so much stigma, so much misunderstanding, and so many different ways the illness presents itself.  Right now, I’m going to let you all in to what I specifically endure.

No, I do not work

Want to get this one out of the way.  I’ve been working since I was 15 years old until August of 2011, when I got laid off.  And yes, I did work-study in college.  I found another job after being laid off for 10 months.  In December of that year, I had to quit.  I didn’t have another job lined up, but every single time I went through the doors, my anxiety shot through the roof, and my symptoms were so bad I could hardly function.

I’m Not Lazy

There are days that I don’t get out of my pjs.  Those are days when I don’t or can’t bring myself to put on a pair of jeans, let alone a whole outfit.  Other days, I’m superwoman.  Getting all the things done that I’ve neglected for the last couple of weeks.  But… I am not lazy.  I still have symptoms.  They’re dampened my the medications, but you have to realize that meds do not take my illness away.  When a good day happens, I go outside, I drive around, and make phone calls to people I haven’t heard from in awhile.  I have things I must do, but you have to realize that I can crash so hard that it’s devastating.

I am on disability

Free money for doing nothing, right?  Oh what I would give to get to go to a job, making my own money, and socialize with my coworkers.  Instead of the “luxury” of “free  money”, it has been a curse.  I’m slowly isolating myself.  My best friend doesn’t even live in the state i do anymore.  There are a few people I’ve kept in ok contact with, though, so I’m not a hermit… yet.

If you call or text me if to see if I have no plans, it doesn’t mean I want to hang out

People exhaust me.  I actually have to take a nap after I get home 90% of the time.  So, I may be free, but I don’t want to be exhausted… I want to stay at home and watch Netflix or write in my journal or just crash and not want to get out of my pjs.  I know that makes people shun me a bit, but if I’ve already decided on what I’m going to, unless I really want to see you because it’s been way too long, I won’t change my plans.

I can still do things for myself

I’m not disabled in the way someone with any physical limitations is.  I can do my laundry, wash the dishes, change the cat litter, drive my car, reorganize my room, go shopping, and many other things.  There is, however, a caveat.  I can’t unless I feel safe and have enough energy left.  Sometimes I just have to say no to all of that.  So the cat litter will be changed the next day, I leave dishes in the sink, my clothes can be piled up with both clean and dirty clothes, let my mom know that I just can’t go out.  It’s a 50/50 chance.

Yes, I look normal.

I don’t have to look different (even though I sometimes do, and avoid people like the plague).  I can smile.  I can laugh. I can have meaningful conversation with someone.  And yes, unless I tell you, you wouldn’t even know I had a mental illness.  Of course, as mentioned, I don’t look normal 100% of the day.  My illness has some effects that make me look void of emotion, I’ll laugh or cry at inappropriate times, if I’m really feeling scared, I will stutter (and other things, but I don’t want to go into extreme detail).  This and not being able to be around people is usually why I don’t go out.  Emotionally, I definitely improved with how to deal with people, but I can’t stop my appearance and stuff sometimes.

I’m not a junkie

Seriously, how can you even think that?  I haven’t done drugs for over 5 years, and haven’t had a drop of alcohol for at least 3.  I’m actually at the point where it’s an insult to even assume I’m “waiting for my next fix.”  I take enough meds as it is… why would I do something that would negate their effects?  I’ve struggled enough, please don’t put yet another label on me.

I can have a meltdown

A few of my friends know this first hand, but I try to not do it in front of people… even if it’s sitting in my car until things start to even out.  So, it tends to be something else that people will lean on in their quest to say I don’t have an illness… they always see me normal.  So yes, people challenging me, I do breakdown.  I just don’t want anyone to see it.

I take medications

If your first instinct is to tell me I don’t need medication, then FUCK YOU!  You DO NOT KNOW!  Also, I’m not going to get my pill box and tell you what each one is for.  You don’t need to know.  If you’re still unconvinced, I’ll stop taking my meds.  And then make sure that you have to take care of me.  Perhaps that will change your closed mind.

I am smart

Technically I’m gifted.  That doesn’t matter.  Sometimes I’ll forget the word for “trash can.”  That doesn’t matter.  What matters is that I take care of myself, and that sometimes means that my intellect gets put on the back burner.  It doesn’t bother me if it does.  What does bother me is your assumption that  I am “X” smart and should be able to deal with it. All of this “smartness” shit doesn’t help my brain receptors from misfiring.  Read.

Don’t assume I’ve never worked

I’ve worked my entire life until my mental illness made me not to be able to function.  I remember I was hired in a drugstore when I was 15, and then went to the supermarket until I graduated high school, and only left to make more money for college.  Yes, that even means work-study.  I was only unemployed for 2 weeks after graduation.  I went from job to job, mostly because I found a better one.  At my next to last job, my boss decided that I needed to take time to be re-evaluated on my meds and talk to a therapist more.  I did, I came back.  I felt a bit better.  And then I got laid off.  The next job was my last.  My moods were out of control, I kept re-arranging my meds.  I tried some that everyone else started to get leery of me.  My symptoms are my enemy.

I don’t try to correct people who say I have Bipolar Disorder

Why?  Because I lived with that diagnosis for years, I had a medication cocktail that almost worked.  It treated my moods, but only a bit of my psychosis.  People hearing the term Bipolar is a bit more understood by them bc a lot of people knew me and who I was, and that’s how they perceived it.  When I threw in the diagnosis as Schizoaffective, Bipolar 1 type and general anxiety.  That diagnoses replaced my safe haven of just having bipolar disorder.  I shared the new diagnoses with friends, but they tended to shy away.  To them, the fact that I had a disorder that had “schizo” in it’s name, that I was more likely to get turned away.  They forget that the minute before I told them the new diagnoses, they were perfectly comfortable with me.  Tell them my diagnosis changed?  All the attention gets placed on the illness.  They forget that the second after I told them I was still the same person.

I can’t enjoy life the same way you do. 

Yes, I do enjoy life sometimes.  The more people that know that either makes them happy or puts me in that jar you keep labled “fake.”  It’s the way it is.  But most people can differentiate between “normal” happiness and mine.  They know that behind the smiles and laughter, there is something inherently evil giving me suggestions on how to act, just so it isn’t seen.  They’re called “close friends.”  They are the people in my life that I have to thank more then I do.

So yes… I’m all over the map.  And even if my mind is cracking, I will still try to help others in some way.   But sometimes… sometimes I just need to sleep

 

About I.V.

37 year old woman with Schizoaffective, Bipolar 1 type. I'm also intelligent, mostly positive, fandom junkie. Oh, and I have two cats: Zim and Gir... they're 12. So... fandom junkie? Ah, yes. Supernatural, Merlin, Buffy tvs, Angel the series, LOTR, Harry Potter, old x-files. I also like anime and and Manga. farvorite anime? Vampire Knight... and it cannot be dubbed! I also like plenty of others, I think of Elfin Leid when I say that... oh, and Blood+. Favorite Manga? Junjou Romantica, Vampire Knight, Loveless, Gravitation. I like the anime for these as well if they have it. Books: Dune, HP, LOTR, The Hunger Games, Wicked, the Southern Vampire Series, Snow Crash, American Gods, Pride and Prejudice, comics. Movies: The Boondock Saints, LOTR, HP series, Girl Interupted, SLC Punk, Walk Hard: the Dewie Cox Story, House of 1000 Corpses, The Devil's Rejects, Foxfire, Empire Records, Star Wars (only episodes 4-6), Iron Man (both of them), Thor (1&2), The Avengers Video Games: Dragon Age 1,2 and Inquisition, Kingdoms of Amalur, Little Big Planet, Star Ocean. I also love watching other people play Mass Effect, Dead Space and all the above mentioned games Oh, and I love Sushi :)
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12 Responses to Things I Want to Tell People About My Specific Mental Illness

  1. Kira says:

    I can relate to this.

    Like

  2. Harley Quinn says:

    I think everyone would at least relate to one thing on there. The fact that it’s true, saddens me.

    Like

  3. Many of these resonate with me. The laziness one is a barb I’ve heard my entire life. I remember one time I was so tired from what I know now is undiagnosed depression and anxiety. My dad wanted me to get up for whatever reason or no reason at all, and I started crying because I was so tired. He. Fucking. Laughed. Like it was funny that I was “so lazy” that I cried because I couldn’t sleep more.

    Looking back on my childhood with the lens of experience is so revealing and honestly heartbreaking. I was always afraid of things, irrational things like I always was scared of staying at hotels, because I thought the sprinklers would go off randomly. Even to this day I could never live in a place that has them even though I know that makes no fucking sense. I’m also afraid of strange bathrooms so tie this together with my fear of sprinklers and it can be hell every time I’d have to go. I can sometimes make myself forget about it like during my sleep study, but it’s just this irrational fear, and I could never tell my parents, because they’d just ridicule me, ask “What’s wrong with your brain?” and/or punish me for being afraid or say/do things to make me MORE afraid. I was/am afraid of the dark, and my cousin put me in a closet and leaned against the door while I screamed. I remember being afraid I’d certain video games and when he found out, he wouldn’t let me leave the room like physically would drag me back.

    I just learned to keep it in and try to pretend I was okay. I became very good at that to the point where I convinced myself, but I’m done with that shit. I’m not okay…and that’s alright. I have depression, anxiety, narcolepsy, possibly OCD, and more than likely other things. I take meds for this and eventually would like to see a doctor for it, but I’m not going to be ashamed of who/what I am, because I fucking survived up to this point, and so did you.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Harley Quinn says:

    Yes! We don’t need to apologize to ANYONE. If there are people in our life (in any capacity) that treat us as too sensitive, completely wrong, or anything of that sort, the adage is true… we don’t need them in our lives. It took me years to understand that.

    And I want to thank you for sharing more of your story with me. We’ve been friends for a pretty long time, and you would gloss things over or try to change the subject with humor. I’ve always recognized it, but I know people do things for a reason, and through personal experience, I hate it when people try to force you in any way.

    I’m very proud to call you my friend. I’m also very proud that you stepped off that ledge a little so that you can start healing.

    I can honestly say that you’re going the right way. When we’re not at parties (bc at this point, we all know we put on masks in public and it’s all shit), I can see you as more confident and content. From what you have gone through, that is truly amazing.

    The time of “let’s play pretend” is over. And remember, I’m only a text away.

    xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Being medicated really does help. It’s helped me see that the way I was treated wasn’t right, and I was gaslight for pretty much the entirety of my childhood. I’ve cut off nearly complete contact with a particular family member, because he was one of the worst for emotional abuse. It’s truly fucked up and the sad part is it’s considered normal. I’d hear the constant “We’re family” excuse as if that exonerates you from abuse. Complete bullshit.

    Like

  6. Harley Quinn says:

    Hello! Yes, almost everyone can relate to something in this post. It’s the shame of mental illness that keeps people from speaking out.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I am just highly anxious and have a panic disorder with depression trying to raise a family and be an active mother. I just applied for disability myself…literally everything you wrote could have came from my mouth verbatim!

    Like

  8. Harley Quinn says:

    Wow… yeah. I have generalized anxiety, panic disorder, and social anxiety on top of having Schizoaffective disorder. It’s hell.

    Do you have a lawyer helping with the disability application? A lot of people don’t get approved their first time. I had a lawyer who specialized in disability and got it on the first try.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. yes, i think so..I emailed a lawyer and he wrote me back, I’ve heard its hard as hell to get it…I get disability for my autistic daughter as well, so I’ve been through the process once already, just not for myself and something they can so easily deny, I sent in all of my doctors info (I have 2 docs with the same diagnosis)

    Like

  10. Harley Quinn says:

    Send them every possible thing you can think of. Call the places you got information from to let them know that social security will be calling (I’d ask your lawyer before that, though). Provide your lawyer with absolutely everything (which I’m sure you know with your daughter). I wasn’t expecting to get approved the first time, but because of my lawyer and my extensive psych evals and meds, I guess it was enough.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Wow, thanks for the advice. For my daughter she got approved the first time and I didn’t have a lawyer, just 1 diagnostician from her school and 1 well known Doctor. I’m guessing its not gonna be that easy for me…people think we can choose to be “Happy”. I am not “Unhappy” but my mind is… I am not what people think of when they think of depression (unshowered, greasy hair, bathrobe) no….I’m more of a “messy bun, sweatpants and hoodie” kind of depressed… and I laugh and smile….but its a darkness thats inside…like deep deep inside clawing its way out … and sometimes It will peak through, but I hide it and just retreat and cry and feel crazy.

    Liked by 1 person

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