Follow me for a few minutes through my Mental Illness.
I’m sick. I’ve been sick all my life. Not because something is wrong with me but because of what happened to me. I’ll talk about that a bit later. But for now, let me introduce you to what it’s been like for me to live with Mental Illness.
I have been diagnosed (finally) with the following:
Major Depressive Disorder
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
I have been highly functional. I’ve fallen hard more than once but I’ve been able to pick myself up and move on. Don’t ask me how.
I have kept a decent job, raised 6 beautiful children and have kept my 2nd marriage going for 17 years despite my illness and all this without medication. That’s not totally true. I’ve used and abused medication and alcohol along with Cocaine and Meth. But for the last 17 years it’s been alcohol.
My childhood was pretty much a nightmare and life in general has been truly difficult. But it’s the trauma that keeps me in this place. This place with this huge fucking Elephant sitting on my head squealing in my face and the little fucking Monkey with his claws in my shoulders, his words in my ears telling me that as soon as I get that drink the Elephant will shut up. That was no lie.
It has been unbearably terrifying. It has been so fucking sad. It has been ridiculously confusing. And intolerably painful. Each and every day. Not just a little and not just every once in a while, but constantly. And no one really gets it. They say things, like “just get over it man”. Or “Look at the bright side”. They wonder why you can’t just focus on all the good in your life. Be grateful, you know? And I have tried and I have built some skill so that I’m not so obvious. But after a while of trying to minimize and trying to hold it all inside, I blow up. And when I blow up it’s not just for a moment but for months and months including alcohol abuse.
Imagine being afraid to drive in a car. Not just a little afraid but that every time you get in a car you absolutely know you will die in a horrifically painful car crash.
Imagine being afraid to go into a grocery store because you know you will panic. You are afraid to be alone. You feel very unsafe. And then it happens when you try. You fucking panic and it feels like a heart attack.
Imagine jumping at every noise. Being afraid when someone sneaks up behind you. Always facing the door in any public place or looking for all the exits.
Imaging not being able to go for walks by the beach alone. You just know you’ll be attacked. You know it in your bones. You think it’s intuition but later realize you were being irrational. But the next time you try the same thing happens and you panic.
Imagine feeling so heavy, so alone and empty that you just can’t even imagine getting out of bed. Your house becomes dark and dirty. You tell lies because you absolutely can’t face anything or anyone but you don’t want to explain that you’re depressed. No one will understand it anyways.
Imagine missing so many good things because you are so fucking heavy with depression and anxiety that you can’t move.
Your family tries to understand. Maybe even your friends try to understand. But really, no one does. They think what they think and you make up all sorts of things that they think just adding to the sick.
Every day is an exercise in trying to live, trying to just get up and get out to support yourself or your family. A total fucking inside push to do what you know you need to do or your world will fall apart. The pressure keeps you going but is so heavy that you need something to look forward to. You are just so fucking exhausted that you can’t fight.
Alcohol is an easy if not temporary fix. At least you know at the end of the day you can grab a few drinks to feel better. It hardly helps but anything at all that helps you will find and use.
You truly think about suicide, oh but NEVER speak of it. Because if you do, they will take you to the loony bin. Can’t have that. Got to keep working, got to keep taking care of the family. But then you think about it anyways. You fantasize about how you would do it. What it would feel like. And then what it wouldn’t feel like. The pain would be gone. You could finally rest. And it is truly tempting. It becomes something you might think about often.
And then there is the reason you are so sick. All those horrible things that happened to you along the way. Things you rarely talk about but are spinning with sharp blades inside your head. You get stuck in them sometimes. You don’t even realize it. But they creep up out the nowhere sometimes and paralyze you with fear, sadness, anger and shame. Sometimes they come out in your nightmares. You have them often and rarely get enough sleep to survive. But to talk about them is wrong. It’s just giving them life, you think.
This is my life. Has been my life. The inside push to care for my family and the love of my husband has kept me alive, I think.