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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Hello darkness my old friend…

I used to say a lot, now, I say a lot less.  I don’t say publicly how I’m doing much anymore.  I believe that’s okay though.  Not everyone needs to know my state of mind anyway.  Facebook culture kind of draws new types of interactions between people.  Some is good, some is not so good.  I don’t think my past cries for attention on Facebook were worthless.  They spoke to a real need I was having.  I just think that Facebook is not the outlet in which anyone should reach for that type of attention. Reassurance will never come through the words on the other side of a glass screen. 

With that said, I do believe it is incredibly difficult to have real conversations about my illness without some sort of judgement being passed.  Maybe that is why I liked Facebook better; it is far more passive.  I can tell people I’m feeling awful and a few will say they love me and that is that.  If I tell someone in person that I am emotionally awful, I am more likely to get a response that minimizes the words I said and how I feel. I have many theories for this, but no matter why  people dismiss my feelings, the result is the same.  My feelings are dismissed.  The hurt is real and that’s why I and many others tend to keep our emotions bottled up.  It’s a lot easier to pretend they don’t exist sometimes.

I’m bipolar, however, and unfortunately my emotions do exist.  I have highs and I crash from those highs.  My lows are deep and powerful.  As much as I hate suicide it still crosses my mind.  Yet no one besides those closest to me- my boyfriend, parents, roommates- know those things still linger. I’m hurting in silence.  I have such a wonderful job where I get to wear a smile all day and make others smile.  I couldn’t be happier there, but when I get home I’m gone.  I fail to exist in an active society.  I have gotten to a place that when I put all my positive energy into work or my minimal social life,  whenever I get the chance to retract to my room and dwell in a temporary state of lack of existence, I do. I fight for my life every single day.  I fake a smile -because I know if I don’t, even fake it, I would just give up.  That is never an option for me.  

This isn’t a cry for help, nor is it an apology for being “absent”.  This is simply an explanation of my wellbeing.  I want people who care to know where I am and why I am.  I do not think that I should feel guilty for not being a great friend or person right now. I’m sick and fighting and if I feel better I will be back.  I think any illness, mental or physical, should be looked at as a person fighting for their lives. Good days, bad days, and everything in between defines our battle. My hypermania comes more often, my depression comes back still severe, and my anxiety exists now to harm me even more at a physical level, but I’m still here.  I learned this past year how to meditate and be mindful of my every step. I have learned how to distract myself from bad thoughts.  I’m constantly learning to radically accept my past and future for what it is and the thing in which I can’t change.  I am also fighting for change where I see brokenness.  I’m a fighter for the marginalized and oppressed.  I gain passion from seeing the empowerment of those who have been given so little opportunity.  So here is where I am, dear ones.

I hope the next time you see someone, you don’t just see the outside, but you make sure to find out what they are fighting in their soul. 

“You don’t know the half of the abuse” – heathens by twenty one pilots
The photo used for this blog post was taken by my amazing sister and friend Kaitlin. Find her work on Instagram at Kaitlin Grant Photography.

Stoping Silence

I’m experiencing some sort of hurt that I can’t stand to feel. Not for the fact that it hurts for I have dealt with far worse but for the fact that I know so many others are standing under the same hurt I experienced during the depth of my illness.  Let me explain further.

Last year was easily the hardest year of my life.  I fought for and tried to give up my life on numerous occasions.  The hurt of the deep darkness and depression I felt was strong enough to draw me to want to end my life.  The problem is that the reactions to my hurt worsend my hurt to an extreme that I honestly find hard to put into words.  Now I realize why many stay silent for the pain of dismissal was far more disturbing than the pain of depression or mania. 

Nothing made me want to kill myself more than the reactions to my attempted suicide.  By many, not all but many, I was not nurtured but instead I was punished. I was treated like a criminal.  This is a hard thing for many to comprehend.  For I know more than anyone how awful and wrong suicide is.  The difference, however, is I was not the criminal. I was the victim of a disease.  I was the victim of a very real illness called bipolar depression.  I could not suck it up nor could I pray it away.  I will restate something I wrote long ago.  I do believe Jesus can and does heal, but I also believe he provides us with modern medicine to heal.  Like a dibetic can’t live without insulin, mentally ill can not live without their medications either.

It seems medication for those with mental illnesses are greatly debated.  Some say the pharmaceutical companies feed off of people’s paranoia.  Once again, I am shaken and insulted to the core of my being.  Do not dismiss these illnesses.  This is what leads people to keep quiet.  This is what lets depression win.  We tell people to fight for their lives when it comes to cancer by using strong medications but them others are told to suck it up because the medication will mess you up more.  This statement has my cringing.  Trust me when I say, in my depths, I could not be messed up any more.  I would never tell anyone the things I’ve thought in fear of disturbing them.  You see, I am sick, but my sickness is invisable to the naked eye. 

I hate knowing others also must deal with this dismissal. I hate knowing people are invalidated.  I hate knowing people are taking their lives daily because of such ignorance. I hate seeing jokes about the mentally ill depicted in straight jackets.  I hate the fear associate with places that treat the mentally ill.  I hate thinking back on how I was treated after I attempted suicide and knowing others are treated similarly.  

Please hear me out on this one and make yourself an ally to those who suffer in silence. Talk about it and be about it.