It’s funny that the mental picture many get in their heads when hearing ‘psychiatric or mental issues’ is a padded room. Because I swore I was standing in one for years, there were days that room sounded better then being in my own head.
This stage was, and to some degree still is, a huge part of my life and whether others choose to admit or see it, it’s a huge part of many others as well. It’s the forbidden word, the one that we as society try and avoid at all costs. I mean, who can blame them, really. The highlight reels of the outside world are far more exciting then a topic such as this! And the entertainment value of those highlight reels, pfffff, show me the monaaaay! But, while the glamour of Hollywood, The Kardashians, Botched or the latest draft picks are great for a temporary zone out – let’s call a spade a spade – it isn’t effing REALITY to the other 99% of the world! Even for people such as myself that purposely avoid the news – you can’t help but hear, see and notice what is really going on this world. And the shit aint pretty.
So, depression, mental illness, psychiatric issues, a nut job, a lunatic – I don’t care what you want to refer to it as – it’s real. And it’s real in far more people then anyone would like to admit. And if this doesn’t apply to you, I’d first off like to say – congrats, and I mean that in the sincerest of ways. You are one of the lucky ones. But I also invite you to stick out this entry with me, because chances are – whether you want to admit, or choose to see it – you know someone who has, or is dealing with a mental illness in some shape or form. The stats are astonishing and as I said – take a look around, times are tough – and these hardships are wearing on people in far less then time then one would think.
Josie was diagnosed at the age of 11. My parents never hid the fact that this was a concern. They made sure she was not only she treated by medication, but that she had an outlet of a counselor to talk things out. Depression is a word that I was very aware of growing up – but as I had written before, I never knew the actual meaning behind it. It honestly never made sense to me. My mentality on the whole subject was ‘pick yourself up by your boot straps, get over it and be HAPPY already!’ And then one day, I found myself standing on the opposite side of a fence I never understood, nor cared to ever understand. And once I was over there – the physical and mental heaviness that literally bogged down my body and mind were astonishing.
I remember being told ‘you’re here, but you aren’t here, we need you here mentally just as much as physically.’ I remember thinking, yeah, no shit, I wish that was an option! But I was pretty checked out from both areas to be honest. From a physical standpoint, I had gained 40 pounds within a year – food was my safe haven. Aside from that, getting out of bed was SO much work, so being active was no longer in my vocabulary. I didn’t want to have to see a soul, including myself. And really, what was worth getting dressed up for? I’ve never known mascara stained cheeks to be a trend, and that’s all that would happen if and when I did leave the house. The few times we would go out, I would find myself just standing there looking around thinking, I shouldn’t be there. I didn’t deserve to laugh or have fun. And I’d find myself watching others doing just that and think ‘I wish I could do that and it come so naturally again.” And no matter how many times I tried, really tried to laugh or be fully engaged in a conversation, I couldn’t be genuinely engaged. The laugh wasn’t genuine, the conversation was surface, probably for both parties, because I’m sure others were unsure of what to say or how to say it. The only thing I could think about was her, how my life would never be the same, how I hated the person I was before this, especially my selfish ways, and yet how I so badly, to some degree, wanted to remember and be her again. It was a time of darkness, of no mental clarity.
By May of 20o8 after suicidal thoughts, that I really don’t think would’ve been that hard to follow through on – I was admitted into the Generose outpatient program. It was the only other option next to inpatient, so I was taken off of work for 6 weeks in hopes of regaining some sanity. That’s when my adventure with medications started, which only added to the weight gain and excessive sleeping at first, but at least when I was awake, I was a little more coherent. Medications are never a ‘fix’ in any circumstance, so I found a God send of a Psychologist, Don Williams ( http://drdewilliams.com/bios.html) that seriously saved my life. He gave me insight on everything from suicide, to depression to parenting, to coping, while reiterating I wasn’t as crazy as I felt! (Always a nice reassurance, even if he was lying 😉 Ha! I began to look forward to our sessions, even if they were nothing but chronic breakdowns to start. They were my weekly ‘pick me up’ to get me through the next week, it was like a small load would be lifted from me each time I left. After awhile the intense crying became a little less, but the topic was still repetitive. I remember telling him over and over, ‘I don’t know why I think these things! I hate it, I know it isn’t right and I just want it to stop! It’s MY head, MY thoughts – I should be able to control them, I’M in charge of them! And, as always, his feedback was perfect. His response was, ‘can a cancer patient make their tumor stop growing?’ Of course I looked at him like WTF does this have to do with anything!? lol He said ‘that’s the problem with society, everyone thinks it’s that easy, you just flip a switch and you think differently. But this is a disease, just like cancer, or heart disease or anything else! It’s the same as looking at that cancer patient and saying ‘it’s your body, make the tumor stop!’. It doesn’t work that way. I remember being awed by that, like huh, I guess that does make sense! Isn’t it funny what we believe and get wrapped up in on account of what’s drilled into us? I was feeling so guilty for not being able to better control my mindset, but I was sick. Just like you can’t control your immune system with a cold or the flu. Funny how things are viewed so differently isn’t it?
Don was my sounding board for years, he literally walked me through, step by step just on how to survive. Because really, that’s all it was for a long time, pure survival mode. It was like going back to the basics of a teaching a child to eat, sleep and bathe on their own. I had to learn how important it was to shower and take 10 minute walks to try and clear my head, time to decompress, but not too much! I needed to start putting things back on my calendar, even if they didn’t sound the least bit enjoyable. Start wearing make up and doing something with my hair before work. Things that used to come so easy to me, I was now having to be told to do. They worked – for awhile. But then I’d cycle back around again, needing another medication or dosage change. Friiiiiick, when was I ever going to be normal again?! Wait, was it or I ever normal? Did I like the me before all of this? Because there’s alot of things I hate about that person, but I hate this person too! Why can’t I laugh, why can’t I have fun? Why can’t I be excited about things again? Why can’t I enjoy everything I have? Ready, set, walk…one .foot.in.front.of.the.other. They say slow and steady wins the race, and slow it was!
Continue reading Gluttony and Starvation
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