‘The guilt I felt for having a mental illness was horrible. I prayed for a broken bone that would heal in six weeks. But that never happened. I was cursed with an illness that nobody could see and nobody knew much about.’
It started almost 15 years ago with the feeling that I was living apart from the general public and my friends, on some other planet. I did not try to explain the way I felt to anyone because I did not understand it and even if I did I could find no coherent way to vocalize it.
We believe the earth is not flat, we believe space travel is possible, we believe in psychics and mediums and most believe in some sort of afterlife. But virtually every week I experience the resistance of someone believing that mental illness is not “all in your head”.
I am advised that I ‘just need to fight harder’. That I just need to read the right book. That I just need to make my mind up to be happy. That I need to compare my wonderful life to those who are really suffering. And occasionally I am told to ‘just deal’.
I have voluntarily entered myself into mental facilities, spoken to countless psychologists and psychiatrists, tried various cocktails of medications, journaled, exercised, self-affirmed, volunteered and tried dozens of other therapies I have been advised to try.
I have been stigmatized at work (confidentiality is a fairy-tale), had my work ethic questioned, been turned down for financial assistance, lost friends who could not understand my fear of leaving my house and kept my mouth shut when my poor, beloved Momma says she can tell I am finally ‘back to my old self’. I don’t even notice the ubiquitous eye-rolls that much anymore. I have stopped trying to convince people that my dog is not a Service Dog simply because I want to take him into hotels, banks, post offices and other public places that scare the crap out of me. They have not seen me crawl down to the foot of my bed, wrap my arms around Ca$h burying my face in his wrinkly neck and implore him to make it all better and keep me safe.
But you know what else I do? I over-celebrate.
New follower to my blog? Party! Straight 8 hour plus workday with no nap? National Holiday! Address a classroom of dozens of youngsters? I am the bravest person I know. And when someone tells me they love what I have drawn, written or said to them? Why the HELL am I not running for President?
Newsflash: this post is not for you folks who do not understand mental illness. If modern day science and the proof of current research has not convinced you – I sure as heck can’t.
No, this post is for those of you who found yourselves reading these humble words and nodding your head. Those who feel that inner lift whenever you realize that you are not the only one feeling what you feel. I hope it helped.
And now please excuse me – my Service Dog is grumping at me to take him out for a Walkie. Small price to pay.