I Know I’m Not Crazy

So I am really into shows and movies about doctors, hospitals, and the like. In such shows, there is sometimes a patient that comes in with all these symptoms and the doctors will then try to say “Oh, those are the classic symptoms of insert mental illness here. Let me call in a psychiatrist.” The patient will panic and say the famous words, “No, please! I know I’m not crazy.” The doctor will then perform numerous tests and find some tumor or lesion and it will be removed and the patient will go on their merry way. When the doctors give the patient the news that it’s a tumor or some other tangible ailment, the patient is relieved because it is much easier to accept a tumor than it is to accept a mental illness.

I know I’m not crazy. I’m not. I have a condition in which my brain produces too much or too little of certain chemicals which cause my mind to not function as well as it should. Just like a tumor I have no control over this chemical reaction. I’m not crazy. Why does society treat those of us that suffer as such?

I understand why people would be upset when they hear that they might have a mental illness. I get it. It totally sucks. It sucks because mental illness is hard to diagnose and even harder to treat. It sucks because it takes a lot of hard work and patience to treat an illness. It sucks because you know you’ll be treated differently because of a chemical imbalance in your body. I get it. It sucks. Let me be perfectly clear, however, it does not suck because we are crazy! It doesn’t. We aren’t crazy.

We may feel crazy at times because our brain is trying kill our body. We may feel crazy when the world around us functions with such ease and our world fails to function at all. We may feel crazy when people treat mental illness like a mythical creature. We may feel crazy, but we aren’t.

Do you know how hard it is to get through life knowing you have nothing to live for? No? Well I do. I have gotten through and created a life worth living. My brain constantly try’s to take that away from me and my fist full of pills remind me I am one slip away from losing all hope. However, these things don’t make me crazy. They make me a fighter. I realize that I will be fighting the rest of my life and that is exhausting. I will not, however, let the world tell me my fight isn’t legitimate. It’s the hardest thing I have ever had to do.

I hope one day there will be a Doctor show where the doctors suggest a mental illness and the patient is able to say, “That really sucks, but I’m happy there is treatment. Walk with me while I fight it.”

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Suck it Up, Buttercup.

It’s not there, if you can’t see it.

It’s not real, if not everyone can feel it.

You’re making excuses.

No one is going to believe it.

You really should grow up.

Why don’t you just give up.

Stop being so damn lazy.

We are going to have to write you up.

Maybe you should try praying more.

You shouldn’t take all those pills anymore.

You scared your peers with your outburst.

You should just try to be happy more.

You seem fine to me.

You look fine to me.

Suck it up, buttercup.

Your life doesn’t look hard to me.

You’re milking this for all it’s worth.

Maybe if you lose some weight it will help your self worth.

You’re just doing this for attention.

You’ll probably grow out of it, for what it’s worth.

It’s all in your head.

Yeah, you’ve got that right. It IS all in my head.

Harboring Hatred

I realized that for a long time now, I have been holding a lot of anger and a lot of hatred towards certain people who have wronged me. Various people from my distant and not so distant past cause me distress even just at the mention of their name. I cringe and scowl scrolling past them on Facebook. I feel in the depths of my soul a lurking darkness, towards them. I hate them. Hate them.

A few hours ago I wanted to write about all the people that I hold grudges against and how they hurt me. I wanted to air their dirty laundry and expose to the world what they have done to me. How they have ruined me; how they ruined my life. I thought this would help me feel more at peace, if I shared these things. I realize now after some much needed decompression that the real issue here is me. That’s right, me. It’s me holding on to bad things. It’s me letting the people who hurt me have so much control over my life. Harboring this hatred is giving these people power over my life, over my well being. The hard part is I know I can’t let go just like that. I know that letting these hurts go is a process. Yet, it’s a process I need to start sooner rather than later. Because once this process turns to progress I will be even more free. Free from those people, free from hatred, I will be free to start my life again. And that is something worth celebrating. It’s something worth fighting for.

Traveling to Bethlehem

Have you ever stopped to think about how awful Mary and Joseph’s travel to Bethlehem must have been. In the story of Christmas, the whole trip is summarized in just one verse. Mary and Joseph traveled from Nazareth to Bethlehem, the town of David. One verse about one long journey. How long exactly? Well let’s take a look. Google tells me that traveling from Nazareth to Bethlehem via the Yitzhak Rabin Highway would take around 2 hours and 11 minutes. To me, a two hour drive is long. Since there were no cars back then, we can easily assume they traveled on foot, maybe with an animal. Google tells us that the walk would take roughly 32 hours. Now assuming they would need to stop to sleep and eat, let’s say the trip took roughly two full days.

Imagine traveling, on foot, very pregnant, for two whole days. Two days of walking nonstop. Swollen feet, sore back, full bladder, and every other side effect of pregnancy would be in full effect. That journey certainly couldn’t of been easy. Yet, they did it. They did it because they had too.

How often does life throw us out on our own “journey”. It often feels like life gives us the worst circumstances and expects us to carry on and travel through. For me, my recent journey has been with losing so much and learning to graciously accept help when offered. It has been hard and I have been kicked when I’m down but I keep going because I have too. Like Mary and Joseph, not only did they have to go to Bethlehem because Caesar told them to, but they also had to go because the prophet from long ago said the Savior of the World would come from the town of Bethlehem. Can you imagine the ramifications of they would have just quit halfway?

I’m really great at giving up. I think about giving up a lot, in fact. I often wish I could quit my job, move away, hide my face, even end my life. Problem is, I can’t quit. I need to keep going. Not because there is a prophecy about me or because the president told me too. I need to keep going because my life and my journey is meaningful to those around me.

Everyone walks there own path and has there own journey. No matter how long and hard the road may seem don’t give up on the hope that every thing you do has the potential to be meaningful to someone else. Once your life holds purpose and meaning, you’ll find giving up becomes less of an option. This doesn’t mean the road will get any easier. In fact, it could always potentially be worse. What’s important to remember is that once you walk through a really, terribly hard spot, you’ll come out on the other side stronger. Your journey will also cross paths with a multitude of other people walking their own road. You hold the power to maybe help make their journey not so hard. Let them know that they aren’t walking alone.

Keep that in mind this holiday season and into the new year. Carry on and help others to carry on. Make life worth living.

Merry Christmas friends

.

Shalom

The Side Effects of Depression

Among really good times, still lurks a heavy darkness. Depression continues to change me. It changes my mind, my relationships, my job, my home, and the way I view the world. It just finished changing my job and my home (for now) and now it’s changing my perspective. Regardless of how difficult changing jobs and housing has been, it has been a pretty positive change in the long run. I realize how incredibly draining and toxic my work environment was. I’m learning how much I was under appreciated. Finding the perfect job for me showed me how much potential I have and how much I can achieve. Moving into a new apartment that’s not falling apart and hosts a fair rent is a bonus, despite moving pains. Overall, I am incredibly happy with the way things are going,

What still lurks beneath the surface? It’s the constant fear of something about to go wrong. It’s the sinister knowledge that life can be really shitty despite everyone’s best efforts. It’s knowing that the only reason I’m alive is from just a couple handfuls of tiny pills that are worth more than my car. It’s knowing that missing taking even just one of those pills on one single day could send my life in a tailspin. It’s knowing that no matter how many pills I take, how many therapy sessions I have, no matter how many coping skills I know, how many hospital visits I log, or how many doctors I talk to, I could still decide to end it all someday. Lurking inside is the unforgiving truth that despite my best efforts, I may live in the darkness of depression for the rest of my life.

All of these things become almost a side effect of depression. Because when depression isn’t consuming my mind, the weight of living with depression does. So yeah, things seem to be looking up, but I tread on eggshells. I’m learning to realize that my optimism can sometimes be my downfall. It’s realizing that the lower my expectations, the less likely I will be let down. Depression sucks, but if you’re forced to live with it, you have to learn to adapt to make life as pleasant as possible.

Where is The Hope?

Why does it feel like there is nobody there when you need them the most. People always say they are there to listen, but bail out the second hard stuff is mentioned. Sometimes I just want someone that is unbiased to hear me out when I’m in pain, but therapy isn’t just one phone call away. Unfortunately, a reality of life if we are always alone. At the end of the day it just me. I will be the only one buried in my grave.

Prayers these days feel more like whispers of rage and hope seems like a fleeting wish. I wrestle too much with my mind that I can’t seem to grasp even an idea that maybe there is a better tomorrow or maybe that there is more to this horrible life. I’m like Daniel in the Lions den but I’m being devoured. Or the three courageous men in the furnace except I’m being consumed by the fire. Oxygen refuses to remain in my lungs as the throat that is life slowly shuts and I’m struggling to find my next breath.

I often feel like death is the better option as opposed to struggling to stay alive. My world is getting increasingly smaller with every faithful step forward. Like I am swimming against the current, I’m so close to being whisked off to sea.

Where is the hope?

Chapter 2: Big Brother

The sun was setting over the small lake side town in which the hospital resided. I wasn’t sure of how much time had passed as the only clocks were located in the commons. I could tell evening was approaching because it was getting darker and I was getting anxious. I found the lights and turned them on. Looking around the room, I noticed peculiarities about the place. The mirror in the bathroom wasn’t glass, the toilet paper was placed in a hole in the wall, and every hook in the room collapsed with just a slight amount of pressure. “These people really think of everything,” I thought to myself as I settled back on my bed. My stomach was telling me it’s time to eat something. The man that was packing the hall seemed to have stopped, so I figured now was my chance.

Slowly, I crept out of my room as if I was in a horror film. I walked on the far left side of the hallway looking in to every room as I passed. I got to the front desk expecting to be greeted with a million questions, however, no one said a word. Relieved, I went into what Nancy referred to as the “Day Room” and looked around. There was a large TV that was sealed behind a plastic wall. It hosted some sort of game show at the far end of the room. To the right of the tv sat a small book case. Couches and chairs surrounded this small area to give it a living room appearance. Behind the couch was the table. It was long and stretched the rest of the length of the room. A couple people sat at the table either coloring or reading. There were games and puzzles along the wall to the right of me.  Just above the games sat a large window that gave nurses and care providers a clear view of all of our movements. This made me feel like I was a child in a not so pleasant way. Behind me, stood a refrigerator. It stated that the contents were for patients only. I opened the fridge to ease my curiosity only to be disappointed by what I found. Cheese was my only food choice and it looks as if they had enough milk and juice boxes to start a school lunch program. I grabbed myself a chocolate milk and sat down at a secluded table that was separate from the main one. I didn’t feel like talking to anyone so I figured this solo table would be my best bet.

I continued to observe in silence all of those around me. The man previously seen pacing the halls now sat at the large table reading a newspaper. A smaller Latino woman sat kiddy corner to him. She was coloring some sort of adult coloring book page. At the opposite end of the large table sat a larger, unkempt, man that was mumbling something to himself. He frequently used hand gestures and threw his head on the table. At the time, I was more afraid of him than I was concerned for him as to what he might have been going through. The only other person left in the room was a man that was sitting in a chair near the television. Though he was near the tv, it was clear he wasn’t watching it. He was staring coldly at the floor. Sporting black hoodie with the hood up, he was puffing on his e-cigarette. Now, I don’t know if it was his sheer look of doom and dread or my growing curiosity, but suddenly I knew I was not the only one here that felt so alone.

Time seemed to stand still whenever I had a moment alone so I don’t know how long I was lost in my thoughts for, but eventually, the room started filling with more and more people. Barb and Nancy walked in, quickly spotting me. They sat at the only two seats left at my little table. I let them talk and ask questions. I had little interest in having a real conversation. I only paid attention when what they were talking was relevant to me, such as, what time meals come. I also quickly gained interest as they detailed out visiting hours and pointed out a wall phone I could utilize.

Our time talking was halted when a tall well dressed man with shaggy blond hair entered the room. I had remembered seeing him sitting behind the front desk earlier. He turned off all the lights and started talking about this thing called “mindfulness” and how we were about to practice it. I was skeptical of the whole ordeal. What made it even worse is he started the practice with a singing bowl. I was getting weird a voodoo vibe and I it made me super uncomfortable. The good thing was that during the practice, everything was quiet and still for once. The next good thing, was that after we were done, dinner was served.

Very slowly uncovered all my food. Bland chicken salad and wheat bread is what was on the menu for me tonight. I was definitely going to take Barb up on her offer of showing me the menu. I took a few bites but I just shoved the rest aside. I cleared my spot at the table and walked to my room.

I sat down on the bed, this time feeling a little lighter as I was growing more familiar with my surroundings. I looked out the window again to see the town alive. I watched out the window as if it was a blockbuster movie. I let my imagination drive the stories that popped into my head. From this high, I felt like this was the Sims in real life. The only thing is, out there– it was real life, but in this room, was some sort of nightmare.

The hours passed slowly and I was excited to see my parents during visiting hours that evening. We cried and laughed. I told them all the strange things I encountered. They told me they loved me and that this is the best way for me to get better. And after what felt like only a few minutes, the clock struck eight and visiting hours were over. I hugged them goodbye and they reassured me it was all going to be alright. I put my brave face on and watched them leave, the secured doors locking behind them.

My parents had pick up some cloths from my apartment so I went back to my room to make it feel just a slight bit homie. I wanted to shower and change out of my jeans. I felt gross on the outside which didn’t help my internal feelings any. I walked down towards the nurses station to ask about shower supplies. I was realizing that almost every patient was wearing the same blue colored scrub pants. As they walked past me in the hall, I wondered if I could have a pair. I asked the people at the desk and they handed me a small cup that I could dispense shampoo into, a small bar of soap, a pair of scrub pants, and another pair of sock. It was the little things that made me happy. A nurse walked me to the linen closet showing me where I can get towels or extra blankets at night. She pointed out the shower rooms were located across the hall from the patients rooms. She left me as I walked into one and shut the door. The door didn’t lock for my own safety they said, but I would have felt safer if no one could walk in on me naked. Regardless, I tossed the cloths aside and stepped under the warm stream of water. I was washing away everything that had happened today and I wanted to walk out of there with a new attitude.

After my shower I pulled on the scrubs and threw on a dirty t-shirt they must have grabbed off the floor. I walked into the calm day room and went straight for the bookshelf. I picked one out and brought it back to my room. If I had to be locked in here, I might as well make the best of it. I was on a mental vacation and this is exactly what I needed.

After a short time reading I drifted to sleep. I had shut the door when I came into my room and I remember waking up to find it halfway opened. Every 15 minutes or so shoes would squeak into my room and squeak right back out. They were like big brother, always watching.


Check out the first chapter HERE