Trying this post again...
I'm not ashamed to talk about mental
illness like I used to be. It is a serious, serious issue that needs
national and international conversation....
I'm 35 years old and
first started dealing with social phobia when I was five years old. Then
the mood swings started by the time I was eight. So did the rituals of
OCD. I first self harmed at 12. I seriously tried to commit suicide at
13. As a teen I already was dealing with bipolar, social anxiety
disorder, OCD, PTSD, Borderline Personality Disorder and ADHD. The
depressions were severe. I had no idea what was going on, only that I
was living in fear and extreme highs and lows. I only made it to school
1/3rd of the days my junior year because of depression and social
At 19, I put my fiance''s service 9mm gun in my mouth and
tried to pull the trigger. At 29 I took 150 extra strength Tylenol and
told no one for two days until I was found, severely sick. Around the
same time, I took a bottle of sleeping pills and put a bag over my head.
I also went out in the snow at a park by Lake Michigan, drunk, in only
jeans and a t-shirt in sub zero Wisconsin winter, laid down and waited
to die. My ex-husband drove his little car off road through eight inches
of snow in the park to rescue me. By the time he got to me, I couldn't
feel my hands or feet at all. It took something like six hours before I
stopped shaking from being so cold.
These were serious attempts.
The pain of my illness was so overwhelming I didn't want to fight it
anymore and just wanted the pain to stop. I also didn't want anyone to
know. By the time I was 20 I was hiding it. I was letting emotions
bottle up so I wouldn't have to burden anyone and then taking it out on
myself by way of cutting. I started that when I was 12 and at times it
is still an issue today. People think it is only for attention but in my
case it was not. It was the only way I knew to express negative
emotions. I hid it very well, cutting in places people didn't see.
stopped showing almost all symptoms of my illness outwardly. I was
tired of the arguments, people telling me I was wanting attention, being
lazy, telling me to suck it up and that I was an embarrassment. Real
mental illness is just that, an illness. Just like diabetes and heart
disease. It is a disease of the brain. People seem to forget that. There
are no easy cures, no magic overnight therapy,no magic pill. For many
it is a lifelong fight. To feel normal, to function, to have a real
life, sometimes to just make it out of bed. If I could magically make it
go away I would. The one thing I am very good at is photography. When I
was younger I dreamed of working freelance, traveling the world and
selling my own prints. These days, because of my limitations, I feel
I've come to terms with that never being a realized dream. I don't ever
see myself functioning at that kind of level. Maybe that is negative but
I think it's realistic. I can barely go to the store by myself without
panicking, how can I ever travel the world and do photography jobs,
under pressure. I just feel like it can't happen. This makes it very
hard on me. It continually makes me feel like a failure. Every time my
bipolar goes up and I feel good, I get hopeful. Then, against my best
efforts, it falls. Sometimes for months at a time. It can be
debilitating to say the least. Over the last two decades, I've found I
don't get my hopes up anymore. When I feel good, I'm always waiting for
the ball to drop.
I've been hospitalized nine times in my life
because of this. Some were suicide attempts, one was from a wellness
check when I didn't contact anyone for two weeks, once my father caught
me cutting, the rest were voluntary because I knew I was doing very very
poorly. Going inpatient, I generally only tell like...two people. I
find it highly stigmatizing and embarrassing. People judge you for it.
I've even judged myself for it. You go in feeling like you want to die
but at least some of the time you come out functioning better. If I ever
need that kind of assistance again, I'll do it. It's better than the
These days things are a little better. But it takes
hard work even to move an inch. Therapy, doctors, meds... and more
therapy. Learning about why you have it, dealing with past issues and
emotions, learning how your illness distorts what you see, what you
think. At first it's hard to even get a small grip on that. If you've
had mental illness long enough, like me, it's hard to even know what is
the right and wrong way to interpret and react to any situation. It's
like learning all over again. The biggest one is coping skills for those
days when you get really down or really anxious. Easy to learn, very
hard to put into practice. I used to be embarrassed I had to take psych
meds. I'm currently on six. With these six, I can actually leave the
house and my extreme anxiety and paranoia lessens a bit. But the rest I
have to learn and it's damned hard. Worth it though.
I realize it
is hard for people to understand. Some think sadness (thought bad
enough) is the same thing as the depression from bipolar or mental
illness. It is not. It is like taking sadness and multiplying it by
1000. So deep and black it makes your heart ache. Your mind numb.
Hopelessness sets in. You want to curl up and die. It corrupts your
thinking. It makes you think it will never get any better, that you are
stuck like this forever. You keep trying meds and therapy. It helps for a
while and you think finally, some relief. And then it turns it's ugly
head once again. The cycle goes on and on for years, decades. If you
aren't careful it can wear you down, just make you tired, kills your
self confidence, make you feel weak, a failure and then the thoughts
start... I can't do it anymore or my family would be better off without
the hassles, I just want the pain to stop. Forever.
I really feel
for Mr. Williams. All the money, success and fame in the world can't
keep a person from having mental illness. It can't stop that pain that
goes on and on. The self medicating to numb that pain. It's just
viscous. I'm posting this because I see really ignorant comments online.
Most likely from people that have never dealt with this level of
depression or mental illness. You just don't really know how nasty it
can be unless you've had it happen to you, through no fault of your own.
I wouldn't wish this fight on anyone. Ever. If people just took all the
time they spend trolling these comment sections and deal with why they
are so angry and hateful....
Take a minute and be there for
someone suffering instead because it could've been you on the other end
of this disease. Life is too short and fragile to make people feel
worse. People need support and resources. In my town there is very
little of that. The finances just aren't there (yet they built an
expensive sports clinic for the athletes that attend college here,
because that's where the money is.) It's about money, not mental health.
If everyone would start talking about it instead of being hush hush
about it, eventually the stigma would go away. No one wants to get their
hands dirty though.
To those fighting this terrible disease, know
you are never alone. There are always others going through it as well.
Never ever stop fighting. You are worth it.