We have all joked about being a little crazy or nuts throughout our lifetimes but there is a secret society of us that actually means it, when we say it. I hate the stigma that hangs over our society surrounding mental illnesses and the fact that in America there is 1 out of 5 people that have a mental illness. Think about how many people you know and interact with on a daily basis. What are the odds that you know someone that is currently battling the chemicals in their brain for just a chance at normalcy? As far as my experiences go I can give you a little insight at what actually happens behind the scenes. As far as everyone else’s experiences I don’t know anything about but I can offer some empathy and give them a peace of mind that we are all struggling to do the best we can. That is all we all ever asked for, was for a little understanding and compassion from
those of you who’s brain hasn’t decided to play a little trick on them.
There are days when getting out of bed is the hardest and only task we can accomplish. We may have just spend the weekend sleeping it away but that never seems enough. The exhaustion that runs through us is real and it is deep. It isn’t just a fact of being a little tired from not getting a restful 8 hours, it is a true deep tiredness that never quite goes away. The times we don’t want to spend a month in bed are answered with never want to go to sleep. Those nights and days are just as rough as the nights you want to sleep 12 hours. When you are awake for 24-48 hours your mind starts to do funny things. You start to hallucinate not only with shadows and sounds but with how you got places and what you said/did while there. Your memory retention and concentration is gone and probably not coming back anytime soon, either. You learn to write things down and I mean EVERYTHING from what bills you need to pay, where you need to be and what time. Post-it notes, the back of your hand or reminder apps in your phone are now your best friends; you can be told something 10 times and not remember a single thing. Around the fifth time is when co-workers start looking at you like you have a learning disability and can’t figure out if you are joking or not. Concentrating on task that requires tremendous effort can become almost painful. Imagine a 8 year old kid who just ate all of his Halloween candy, has to go to the bathroom and all of his friends are outside playing. Now give him a daunting assignment (not all task are boring but they appear that way), where he has to sit in a silent room and facing the window. This is what is like to have a mental illness and be given anything you don’t want to do; you feel exactly like that 8 year old.
Along with battling with our physical obstacles we have the inner demons to deal with. We have imaginary conversations for imaginary scenarios that probably will never happen. I like to think this helps us be prepared or control a situation but it is probably just our brains trying to process all the madness surrounding us. There are times we have to silence the thoughts that depression likes to bring to the table. We joke about death and our funerals because to us death isn’t the worst thing in the world. On average those with a mental illness will die 9 years before the average age of death and that is if the side effects of the medication cocktail we are normally on, doesn’t kill us before. The racing thoughts that we are above the law and invincible are almost worse because they are the dangerous ones. They convince us its OK to run away for the weekend, week or year without any consequences. The thoughts that it is OK to consume copious amounts of alcohol or drugs until the wee hours of the night and we will still make it to work on time. The thoughts that we don’t need to take our meds because when we don’t take them we get to stay this way and be the fun one. The words that fly out our mouths at an alarming rate (not always pleasant or polite) surprise us just as much as those around us. Some are born with a filter, those with a mental illness do not have a filter nor a red light to even process what is about to be said. This fun quality has burned numerous bridges for me and damaged relationships beyond repair. I am a honest and truthful person by nature aka born an Aries ,but this adds an extra dose of truth serum that isn’t always well received by the listener.
To be medicated or not to be, should be the real question. If you take your meds as prescribed then your chances of swinging up and down should be lessened, right? Well it is not a magic formula and what your brain/body decided to do one week with the magic pill isn’t always what it does the next week. Sure you can add more and different ones but everyone is different and the secret formula is just that; a secret. So it becomes what is the lesser of the two evils and how well you can tolerate in the long run. The fun part is when your body decided the magic pill that is making you not run down the street naked, is actually killing a vital organ. So now you take another pill to treat the s
ide effects from pill #1. That sounds simple enough until you read the side effects of said medication and the chances of you surviving at all seem pretty slim to none. One day you can drink milk with no issues and the next, you better not wear white pants. You crave foods to the point you wake up with fried chicken on the brain and nothing will satisfy you until you hit up KFC. As with everything in your life food is hit or miss, you either gain 50lbs from eating and side effects or you skip meals for a few days. As I have always said everyday is an adventure and for anyone that is going through all of this, don’t give up. It sucks and it is hard but imagine the kind of stories you will have to tell when you get to the other side.