Why I don’t hide my Mental Illness

I know a lot of people with mental health disorders bury it in the back of their closets, making sure that no one sees it.  They create a fantastic facade, even if an hour earlier they were crying their eyes out because they couldn’t deal anymore.  People smile, laugh with others, and try to not let anyone see their dirty little secret.

Then, if there’s alcohol at a party, most drink to get rid of that little nagging in the back of their brain trying to push itself out. It may get so bad that they literally forget… and in all honesty, it makes it worse.

Those are just a couple of reasons why I DON’T hide.  I hid in college… I didn’t want to be known as my mental illness, I wanted to be the reliable one.  At one point in my senior year, I honestly stopped going to classes, including my make-up class.  I then had to say something.  I got the chance to make up my missed work and got an A.

After college, I still hid.  I didn’t want a label.  I was still uncomfortable in my own skin that the facade I hid behind wasn’t to hard to keep up.  By the end of college, I had successfully maneuvered through 4 years by the seat of my pants.

When I started working and moved out on my own, I kept feeling it harder and harder to hide.  At least the social anxiety hadn’t began yet.  I slowly started to talk to the really good friends I had… to let them know something was wrong.  The simplest thing to say is that I had “Depression” then.  I was too terrified to say anything else.

Then in 2009, I met a fantastic group of friends… and I didn’t hide.  Why?  Because I was tired of it.  And I came to the realization that if I didn’t live the truth, I would never be able to bring it up later.  Then, of course, there was the fear that I would become really close to someone, tell them, and have them walk away… leaving me crushed.  I mean, I wouldn’t tell anyone of it the first time I met them, but once a good friendship starts, I was quite honest.  No one thought differently of me, and for once I felt comfortable.

And then everything fell apart.  Fact is, I still did hide a little part of my illness… the fact that I deal with psychosis.  I think I only told 2-3 people.  The doctors I saw, almost all of them, said my illness would get worse as time went by.  I didn’t believe them, but March 2011 Social Anxiety came roaring into my life, when my boss came to me and asked me to get help for myself.  She was worried, and I told her about the bipolar, and she said her best friend has it.  Compassion from that point on.

In the later part of 2011, after I had been laid off, I started feeling strange bc I hadn’t had meds for a couple of months.  I was definitely depressed, and one time one of my roommates drove me to the ER.  In February 2012, the other roommate (and very close friend) told me that I needed to get help… soon.  I’m not going into details, but I did, and then I got a job at a bank.  By that point, I was already isolating myself.  I wanted to hang out, but I was really mentally drained.

When I got a change in diagnoses, it seemed that I was something to be feared, rather than a person who needed help from her friends.  I fell apart.

So… I don’t hide.  As I said, I let people in because I don’t want to end up hurt when they find out and it changes our friendship.  I like being open.  If I have things bottled up, there is going to be an explosion.  And lastly, as it was when I told some people my new diagnosis, I found out who was a true friend and who was just faking it.  The knowledge of that proved to be one of the best things that could’ve happened to me.

So, if you ever cross my path and we start a new friendship, I can guarantee that I won’t hide.

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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6 Responses to Why I don’t hide my Mental Illness

  1. I go back and forth, but the ability to hide it is not something everyone has. I’m able to disassociate and distract in order to get through my days usually, and I mostly try to keep it buried because I’m a bit of a control freak, and even though I know I shouldn’t, I feel ashamed and angry at myself if I let it get the best of me. I know this is due to what we’re taught as a culture, which is hostile to mental illness and only looks at what people are worth in a capitalistic system, but it’s hard to shake especially when I have other oppressions to contend with. There’s always been that drive to be better, more intelligent, etc. and prove people wrong in their initial judgments. I’m happy I can hide it, but I wish I didn’t have to. I’ve been called a “faker” before, “dramatic,” “attention seeking,” or just plan not believed. That gaslighting stays with you, and it exacerbates my condition(s).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Harley Quinn says:

    aobsolutely. i remembered the first time i heard about gaslighting, it was through one of your facebook posts. it has definitely affected me as well, but more towards partners, etc. My parents don’t do it at all, which I am SO thankful for.

    Being called a “faker” a”liar” being too “dramatic” or being ignored because you are “attention seeking” are horrible things to have to deal with, because not only are you dealing with all the thoughts in your head, but you yourself have to validate them to yourself! And people saying they don’t believe me is just heartbreaking to me. So I can be A, B, or C, but I’m obviously faking when it comes to X. That hurts me more.

    Our group, however, as much as we rationalize, accept, not accept, put blindfolds on, look through everything with rose colored glasses, and not “rocking the boat,” has actually been the best I’ve been treated in my whole life. So when it came time that they brushed me off their shoulders, it fucking hurt (actually, this relates to a post i’m going to write). My feet were swept out from under me, and, just like it would happen physically, I either landed flat on my face or landed on my ass. And now… I feel the sadness of a friend who is experiencing it for the first time, and I know I did them wrong. I never wanted to, but it’s… very hard to help while being hindered myself. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.

    And hiding everything is the way you say. We are so damned lucky that we CAN put on that face. I honestly thank God every night because I could still put on my mask. Eventually… I won’t have the option to.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Not being believed taught me I had to hide how I really feel and really am in all things, because I’ll either be ridiculed or bullied. Not worth taking the risk. It’s been better now that I have a richer life online, but it does make me sad that I can better open up to people I’ve never met IRL than people I’ve known for years. Just blogging itself has made me feel better and more competent in who I am and what I know. Being a black, female gamer isn’t a hindrance in the blogging circles I run in where just being female can be seen as one even today. Blogging on WP has that sense of community though, because if you’re going to spend the time to run a blog, you’re really not going to be a troll, and they’re usually easy to weed out and block.

    It is hard to help someone else swim when you’re drowning yourself.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Harley Quinn says:

    I can see how you’ve been changing for awhile now. I definitely think that the blog you run helps so much, and I’m not just saying that. The last couple of times that I’ve seen you (not in a party setting), I’ve felt change, but I, for the life of me, could not pinpoint what the hell it was.

    Growing up was somewhat different for me. I had one episode when I was 15, that sent me to a 6 week inpatient program for adolescents. My mother even told me that she never believed mental illnesses were real until she saw the torment that I was going through, so she read all about it. I’m very lucky.

    The people that say I’m faking, etc., are my peers, since what all of them see is me smiling and having a good time. They’re not sitting in my bedroom with me on a day where it’s so hard to get out of the bed, let alone do anything else, especially shower.

    The sense of community is definitely a plus on wordpress. Unfortunately, after having a hiatus of two years brings a lot of changes, and I found out that one of my blogger friends committed suicide.

    I also have a LJ, and have found a multitude of support there too, but I wanted to write about my mental illness in another atmosphere… not that I don’t occasionally refer to it there as well.

    And, honestly, I agree with you about finding closer connections with people online vs people IRL. You should see my Christmas Card list.. I have to buy a whole sheet of the international stamps every year.

    We’ve both been through such different things, and have been exposed to quite different life experiences. As I go through all of this, I could be very woe-is-me (and yes, sometimes I do). But I’m grateful for things, and that’s always kept me going. The fact that I can call my dad when I’m having a panic attack is a luxury most people don’t have.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You’re probably picking up the IDGAF vibe lol. That’s probably also come about because I’m chronically ill, have gained weigh, and could not give less fucks about it. That’s in tandem with me becoming an older, grumpier feminist, so I’m much more skeptical about things, and diet culture went on my chopping block a long time ago. I follow a lot of fat positive people who eschew the whole diet culture thing because one, health is no guarantee, and two, size is not an indicator of health. Now, have I gained weight since my symptoms escalated? Yep, and I know it’s because I can’t really exercise. Five years ago, I would’ve been so depressed about gaining so much weight, but now that I have that information, it’s like, “Eh, once I can, you know, stand for longer than five minutes without getting dizzy, then I can look into exercising again.” Really, I’m more upset that I can’t go to jazzercise or jog than I am about the fact that doing so would probably have me losing weight. I miss being able to just do it, because I enjoy those activities not because I need to shrink myself by doing them. I *do* want to lose weight, but I look at it more like a side effect of being healthy (which again is not a guarantee) than a sign of it. There are still cosplays I want to do, but I want to be in better health before I tackle them. But yeah hehe, that’s probably what you’re picking up, the IDGAF attitude, because I don’t hate myself even though fatphobes want me to.

    There’s this great meme or tumblr screenshot about that. It’s like “If I show my symptoms, people will think I’m being dramatic. If I don’t show my symptoms, people will think I’m not sick.” There’s just no way you can win. You pretty much have to decide whom you trust with it. I usually pick people who deal with similar things. It can be incredibly hard to take care of yourself when you barely have enough energy to get up and go to the bathroom. Trust me…I understand this, because I’m in the same boat. I’m very glad I have the option to work from home sometimes. Right now I’m really not because I’m sort of in charge at my job for the month since my sort of supervisor is out and my unit manager left. I keep saying I’m going to get to work early, and I keep not being able to get out of the bed.

    I’m so sorry to hear about your blogger friend ;_; What scares me about things like that is on one hand I feel sorry for the people they leave behind, but on the other hand I still have ideation about it, because this world is terrible.

    Like

  6. Harley Quinn says:

    yes, that fits with what’s been going on. Body-positive for the obese should be a thing that we should talk about. I mean, I know I’m losing weight, weight last year at the time before was 270 lbs… I remember at first never wanting to do anything. My knees are terribly unhealty. I tried “diets” because one of my co-workers had read this book. She told me it was fantastich. I was so eager to read about it.

    As I read about it it all, in struck me that I was losing weight because I wanted eveyone to like me. It wasn’t for myself. I knew I had to just deal with liking myself, etc. when I was at my heighest weight I can definitely say that was the happiest I’d been in awhile. Not that I’m not happy now, but.. I’m sure you get what I’m saying.

    It really angers me about the show symptoms/don’t show symptoms crap. Especially when the person trying to invalidate you probably has a family member who deals with the same things. If I let MY symptoms get out of control, there would be people who would seriously get scared, and would probably push someone to put me in the hospital for a long time. As it is, the meds I’m on lessen or get rid of some symptoms. This means that people will see me smileling, laughing, getting involved with all kinda of conversations…because I can’t let people (except close friends) see the truth. When I don’t go to a party, it’s either from my social anxiety or the fact that I know I wouldn’t be able to hide myself, thinking that everyone was talking about me.

    I am often crushed so much that, as you mentioned, I can’t get out of bed. One day my mom came into my room to see if I was ok. I told her I was tired. I tell everyone I’m freaking tired.

    The suicide thing. I’ll admit to people who won’t freak out, that I do have suicidal thoughts… because I just want to get out of here. I often wonder if someone I knew finaly felt the pain go away when they died. Thing is, I believe in Heaven and Hell, so for that reason, and the fact that I made a promise to my dad that I would never take my life, I just think about it all the time. The blogger friend that took her life… you seriously wouldn’t even know. She wrote a witty, no holds barred, blog about different mental illness issues, and often engaged with her readers. She even nominated me for a blogger award (not sure what), and I was chosen for that one. She was a positive, quirky person who helped people out when they were down. But I know a lot of tmes people hide, so they do become quirky and really happy. I did.

    And, bringing in the psysical with that, it’s quite common that medical problems stems from having depression or other mental health disorders. It’s kinda like your head wants to invite any and all pain that your body has to a bonfire where you finally have to face the fact that there is seriously something wrong… and hopefully the realization gets there in time.

    Like

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