Starting to take off the mask

It’s kind of hard to know exactly how to start writing about having a mental illness. As I said in my previous post, I’m diagnosed with 2 disorders, but in 1998 I was initially diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder (at that time it wasn’t type I or II-just bipolar). That diagnosis was only because when I was put on anti-depressants (prozac) I became manic (more on that hell another day) which at the time, supposedly meant you were bipolar. Back then, it seemed bipolar was the new & upcoming mental diagnosis – I wonder how many people are still misdiagnosed & being treated for something they don’t have.

Fast fwd to now and I’ve been seeing the same therapist since ’06 or so. I’m no longer on anti-depressants (weaned myself off of them); the only psych. med I’m on is neurontin. When I asked my therapist recently if my diagnosis is still bipolar he said no, it’s Major Depression & Mood Disorders, specifically Borderline Personality Disorder. (If your jaw dropped, pick it up…according to NAMI it’s estimated 4-5% of the population live with it)

I can honestly say I recall living with depression as far back as my memory goes, and the same goes for BPD. I’ve always known I was “different” & never quite fit in with others, I did on a superficial way, but (I’m having a difficult time trying to explain myself here-so I’m gonna quit trying for now)

I’m writing about my mental illness/mood disorder because while I do feel ashamed of it, I shouldn’t. Nobody should. The other day I linked to a blog of a mother who wrote about her son who has a mental illness; I figure if she can write about it, so can I. I know people may look at me differently (and something inside me is screaming “Tell them when you’re depressed you internalize, you don’t hurt other people!” And now that I’ve said that? I’m ashamed, but not so ashamed that I’m deleting it.

I don’t think people with mental illness should be any more embarrassed than someone with diabetes or dyslexia. The problem is, there’s a stigma attached to mental illness, especially with the horrific recent shootings, it seems fingers automatically point at the mentally ill. Perhaps it’s justified but I feel it’s more that people are trying to figure out what kind of person would kill others, especially children.

There are endless possibilities, but so far here are 3 of the “most likely” scenarios I can think of: 1) The person could have a mental illness. 2) It could be a “normal” person that’s had a psychotic break or some sort of mental breakdown. 3) It could be a “normal” person that’s completely evil and hateful.

I think it’s important to try & understand things we don’t, especially if they scare us. Here’s an important article I read & would like to share: Dispelling the Myth of Violence and Mental Illness. My BIGGEST fear is that I’ve overlooked something so obvious to others & I’m coming across as insensitive or a know-it-all; I’ll be the 1st to say: I’m not very educated when it comes to mental illness, however, I’m always trying to learn more.

I can only write about my own experience and hopefully, the person you’ve known me to be is the same person you’ll see me as after I share more about my life; if not, I think I can live with that. I don’t want anybody’s pity, sympathy or anything like that. It may be pretentious of me to assume others would even give a damn about my opinion or life experiences. Regardless, here it is, on the internet, therefore forever “out there.”

Shitfuck

Nice title, eh? Back in ’07 when I was on Topamax for depression (and it was supposed to help my migraines) I gradually started noticing my vocabulary was diminishing. It got to the point where I couldn’t even remember the names for basic things like appliances, names, and even cuss words – so my “go to” cuss word, the only one I could say, was Shitfuck. I started researching the side effects of all the new meds I was on & lo & behold the problem was Topamax aka “the california drug”, “the stupid drug” “the blonde drug”…all because it has the potential to make you stupid and it was. I’d been on it for 6 mos., even my fellow bloggers noticed the change it me, it was that obvious. I immediately got off of it & gradually got my memory & vocabulary back. Now, it’s kind of a joke between Dick & I when I say that, but back then, it was no joke.

Today, shitfuck is the word that best describes my life. Don’t get me wrong, I have a lot to be grateful for: on July 5th, I got my 60 chip from N.A., my son has a new job, everyone in my family is in good health – my mom is even going for walks!

But me? Inside? It’s a shitfuck. I know depression when it starts rearing its head & thats a red-flag for me because what follows is detrimental to my life. Sometimes depression is situational- which is easier to deal with. Sometimes it’s generalized- which is what this is. I can’t talk to my family about it cuz they’d flood me with advice & suggestions. I haven’t seen my therapist in 4-5 weeks which is a long time, 1 appt. was cancelled by us, 1 by my therapist, fortunately, I see him tomorrow. For today, I wish I could just sleep & hopefully I will later.

It’s hard to put into words so that people that don’t understand it, or don’t have Borderline Personality Disorder, can relate. As with depression, I can recognize the signs of BPD rising up in my life-mostly in my emotions & brain…my thinking becomes skewed. I get paranoid and other weird shit that I’m not gonna go into.

The main things though are that I don’t feel “connected” with anyone…not 1 person. I don’t think I even feel grounded with myself & the best way to describe that is a balloon with a string attached flying away-it’s not grounded…but that’s me. I’m overwhelmed with worry about things that I have absolutely no control over. “God help me accept the things I cannot change.” That is…whoever/whatever/wherever you are, God.  I don’t feel hopeless, I just wish that for today, I didn’t feel. Period. And I selfishly say that knowing someone I care about is in her last days – but still, I’m being honest & that’s how I feel.

My daughter & I have always been close & while we talk, it’s not the same. She talks about superficial things & acts like everything is fine. She’s living with her boyfriend now & he’s a really good guy, but I want my relationship with her back. Our calls are short, her visits are short, my mom hasn’t talked to her in 2 weeks (Jill normally calls my mom at least once if not twice a week) I know it’s normal for us not to talk so often, but it’s the quality of our talks, not the quantity. Aaaand another family issue with my brother that I won’t go into- its just really fucked up.

And then there’s the shit going on with social media sites… it seems more often than not, when you think you know somebody & have made a friend (especially over months) & they turn out to be so opposite of the person you thought you knew- losing that friend hurts. It doesn’t matter “who” they really are, its like mourning the loss of someone & is still painful. In this case, there’s no going back, but there is a certain empty spot of fun & laughter I shared with that person. This isn’t the 1st time it’s happened & I’m sure it won’t be the last – que sera, sera! (I’m not mentioning this for this topic to be discussed in detail, so if anybody comments, please remember this is just me dumping this stuff to get it out of me)

I’ve been doing what I’m supposed to: helping others, reading N.A. material & keeping in touch with friends there, attending meetings, praying/meditating, staying CLEAN, even exercising (but havent this week). So, what gives? Life. I read somewhere this week that we shouldn’t see obstacles as negative, but those are actually our learning opportunities to grow. Sounds good, doesn’t it? Doesn’t feel so good…it feels like shitfuck.