A bridge over a beautiful waterfall

A bridge over a beautiful waterfall
Nature brings magic

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

I'm scared but I need to say this

I'm scared.

No, I'm not scared. I'm freaking TERRIFIED.

Why am I so scared?

Because I'm afraid with this post I may lose some friends. If I do, I'll have to be okay with it. But I'm NOT okay with it and I probably will never be okay with it.

Let me get serious for a change. My blog is usually posted full of light and fluffy things with the occasional heavy thing thrown in for good measure. I want to introduce you to something that most of you probably already know but I'm going to talk about anyway - depression. More specifically, bipolar disorder and anxiety.

Why am I talking about these illnesses (and yes, they ARE illnesses)?

Because that's my diagnosis: bipolar affective disorder with moderate general anxiety and mild to moderate social anxiety.

People look at mental illnesses as something a person can just "get over". Newsflash, folks. No we CAN'T just "get over it". It's not something we want. It's not something that we turn on and off at will. It's with us every day of our lives and it affects everything we do. My bipolar and anxiety (mostly the anxiety, I think) is the reason I've had a hard time holding a job down since I was 16. I'm 35, almost 36 years old. That's 20 years, folks, that I've been battling this demon.

I've taken Lithium. Never again. I've taken Depakote. Never again. I'm not inclined to become a zombie prior to the zombie apocalypse and that's what those medications do to me. I've met some people who were perfectly fine on Lithium and Depakote. I say if it works for them, that's great. It's just not for me.

It can take years to perfect a medication regime to help stabilize your mood. A prime example are the three meds I'm on now. They work great to stabilize but they make me too tired to do much of anything. That won't work so I need to have them adjusted. We're going to see what they suggest tomorrow when I go to the doctor.

What scares me the most, though, is how many friends am I going to lose over declaring myself as mentally ill. I've already lost a lot of people who didn't understand what was going on in my head and abandoned me. Hell, half the time I don't understand what's going on in my head and I live with it. I don't understand bipolar very well, though I'm learning more about this illness and the effects it's going to have on my life going forward from here.

Knowledge is the key to understanding anything. If you're curious, take a moment to look up bipolar and anxiety. Read their descriptions. Learn more about mental illness. If you suspect you've got a similar problem, talk to your doctor. I waited until it was almost too late to get help. Don't follow my example. Get help and nip it in the bud.

If you've been diagnosed with some kind of mental illness, check out NAMI (National Alliance for the Mentally Ill). If you're bipolar or were diagnosed with clinical depression, check out the Depression & Bipolar Support Alliance. I didn't do a lot of research but there are other websites for the different diagnoses for mental health issues, so check your area for support groups.

Get in touch with a support group. I can't afford the cost of the one I found but I'm going to talk to my counselor on Saturday and see if she knows of any that are free, and on what days they meet since my insurance won't cover it otherwise.

Getting stable has to be a priority for those with mental illness. Being able to just get through a normal day without a problem from our illnesses is something we strive for. A walk down the street may be just another day for you but for someone with social anxiety it's like walking through a lion's den where the slightest sound may wake up a lion.

Don't turn away from those with mental illnesses. They need your support. Don't tell us to get over it. That will never happen, though we may through the use of meds be able to lead stable lives. Don't tell us it's all in our heads. One, we know that. Two, that means you don't believe us that it's an illness and that's hurtful to us.

Education, people. That's what it boils down to. There are some websites out there that are bad, but check out the NAMI and the DBSA websites. They have a lot of good information on mental health issues and are great resources. Read books. Ask questions of your doctor. Find the answers yourself through careful research. Don't just take anybody's word for it. Don't take mine. Do your own research.

But please don't judge us. We're not deliberately doing the things that worry/frighten/anger you. We're trying to live our lives and sometimes we just can't do it without help.

(This post brought to you by yet another friend abandoning me over this. Yes, I'm bitter. Yes, I'm hurt. Educate yourselves, people. Don't abandon others when they tell you they're mentally ill.)


  1. *huggles* My diagnosis is chronic pain, no mental illness involved--but people still have a hard time understanding it. And I did study this, so I hope I can make some kind of a difference.

    It sucks that you lost a friend over this. Really. I'll be here if you need another one. :)

    1. Thanks. I appreciate it. Yeah, I lost a friend to this. I can always use a new friend. *HUGS* I do appreciate the friends that stick with me.

  2. That's terribly sad that anyone would judge someone with any type of illness, mental or otherwise. And especially sad that anyone would turn away from a friend who has an illness of any kind. They aren't true friends if they could do such a thing.

    I've known people who were bi-polar and for someone who is to understand that they need medication and can't do it on their own is a wonderful thing that no one should ever discourage. I've seen terrible things happen when people stop taking their medication, or can't get their medication right. I love how you put it, understanding and education on these illnesses is so important. That is the best gift we can give each other, and one we owe to those we love and care about who have such illnesses.

    (((hugs))) for all you've been through and for having the strength to talk about it.

  3. Doesn't change the fact you're awesome.

    Also, as one roommate years ago pointed out, "KD, the people you get on with best are either certified or certifiable. What does that say about YOU?" and yes, she was diagnosed what was then called Multiple Personality Disorder, talking about one of my closest friends who had just told us he was bipolar (and had been hospitalized several times during manic episodes.)

    So yeah. Not scared off. :) *hug*