Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Lost in Mental illness.

Yesterday I got to have lunch with an old dear friend with whom I do not get to see much. Some things that we talked about made me think and I am feeling "inspired" to post.

This dear friend was expressing some concern and frustration with a family member who had broke down and is dealing with some serious mental health issues. In talking, my friend said one thing that made so much sense and I think happens so very often. She said
"it's like she is lost in mental illness."
She totally hit the nail on the head.

This friend said another thing at a different point in our conversing that day that in retrospect made a nice connection.

She asked what it was like for me. How I was different with and with out medication. She was interested because I have always been "functional." It's logical that one would wonder the difference.

It is hard not be frustrated and sometimes critical when we know some one who seems to fair better through something similar. And especially if we have endured some seriously hard hardships in our own lives.

That is human nature and it can be (in my opinion) a productive coping and building strategy.

However it is important to note that we are all different, have had different experiences and have different levels of, well, everything (various chemistry of the body noted here) that cause us to react differently. There is so much going into a persons mental health.

Going back to the conversation. I was explaining some of the things that she, and most, would not see unless I hit a breaking point. A point at which I no longer could keep my insanities hidden and/or myself "functional" in the public eye.
One thing I mentioned was the intense anger and sometimes violent feelings and urges I would have to fight. She responded "and that's not you."
She is right THAT is NOT ME.
We were roommates in college. And when I say roommates I mean we shared a room more close in size to a closet then a room. It fit a bunk bed, barely, and not much else. We were close friends, we shared just about everything and knew each other well. It is nice when there are people in the world who know who you are and were for just that and not for a degenerative disorder that changes things.

She is absolutely right, that is not me.

I am an optimist but I struggle with a very dark, negative and hopeless depression. I am a deep thinker and quite logical, always have been, but there are times when I can be quite irrational and ridiculous. A black hole of open-minded-ness. It's incredibly embarrassing to look back at. It scares people away and there is often no recovering- no winning them back.

One thing I do know is that I have been fortunate enough to have felt "normal" in my life. At least what I like to think is normal.
I think I likely had a head start on dealing with mental health issues when I was put away for a day, against my will, by some one in authority, and I had to face something I knew little about, did not understand and did not know if I accepted anyway. I was also put on a medication that was not only extremely hard, if not impossible, to get off of but worked. It took a year to get me there, but it worked well enough.
I also had good influences and accepting friends. This dear friend being one of those. My family loved me and though they did not (yet) understand and did not know if they accepted it as a true ailment, they tried. They did not abandon me but they also DID NOT enable me or excuse bad behavior.

This dear friend is right that is not me.
"That" was MOSTLY mental illness, some the result of an old head injury (brains don't heal and head injuries change things).
But I still had options. I am not a victim of my chemistry, my disorders, my illness, what ever you choose to call it. Or even my injury.

I realized in those little grains of wisdom from my friend that if we do not want to become lost in our mental ailments then we have to know and/or decide who we are.