Lifestyle

We Aren’t Crazy: Mentally ill in America

My experience with some of the struggles faced daily by those deemed “crazy”.

Poppin’ Bottles:

Isn’t it a bit odd that May was Mental Health Awareness month, yet so many of us didn’t know that? Here we are heading into August with so many left uneducated on the matter. Mental health isn’t something that is easily achievable for everyone, at least not without a fight.

So many people are trying to be different while so many of us are just trying to fit into societies idea of “normal.” This issue is near and dear to me because… I am mentally ill. It’s still hard for me to admit it. I tend to feel a bit of shame when I do. I suffer from more than a few problems, so many in fact that my desk looks like a pharmacy… or a candy store. Depends on who is looking, I suppose. I suffer from depression, anxiety, A.D.H.D., BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder), and addiction; but I just got a PS4… so I’ve got that going for me.

I take a handful of pills in the morning, a few throughout the day, and another handful at night. Do I like them? No. A few of them taste like shit and some smell like a chem lab the second you pop the lid. I hate taking them, but I hate who I am without them. Amongst my friends–the ones I haven’t pushed/scared away–I’m the weird one. They see me as hot-headed and opinionated, even when I try my hardest not to be. I’m inappropriate at the worst times, I have a morbid sense of humor, and I tend to be a bit depressing. This wasn’t a problem a few years ago because I didn’t need to be an adult then. Now, I can only find maturity from some little round things in a bottle.

Advice:

Like I said before, I’m still the “weird” one. I am drama incarnate and the part that kills me is that I don’t know when it’s happening. I try to read reactions and body language, but it feels like I’m wrong 90% of the time. Even though my friends know of my condition, I tend to get a lot of flak when I’m not always as “normal” as I should be. It was easier when I could blame it on being young and carefree; but being an adult with the attention span of a squirrel, and the inability to keep my mouth shut, makes it extremely hard.

If I could make this an open letter to all those who have decided to befriend someone with a mental illness, I’d like to offer you some advice if you don’t mind. The best advice I could give you is to have an open mind. Whether your friend has one illness, or is like me and is dealing with multiple, listen to their struggles. Just to give you an example, when it comes to depression, sometimes getting the day started is a feat of strength. Suggestions such as “snap out of it” and “things could be worse” don’t really help. There are times when lying in bed and crying is the best we can do. We have our good days and our bad days, so being there helps more than you know. I get that it’s a bitch to try and understand, but you’ll never be able to unless you’ve experienced it yourself.

The Struggle:

Anxiety is annoying. It’s not that we don’t want to go to that huge party with you and tons of people we don’t know. It’s just that… it’s harder for some of us to talk to new people than you may think. We don’t want you to feel the need to babysit us the whole night by not leaving our side, so maybe it’s better if you go on your own? Or, we could stay in, order a pizza, and watch anime. It’s totally up to you.

When we start sweating the small stuff, it may not be the end of the world, but it sure as hell feels like it. We can’t help but freak out, literally. Some of us can’t stop it on our own, and the look you give us when we take out our Xanax doesn’t help.

This brings me to my next point: addiction vs dependence. Yes, we know, it looks like we like our medication a little too much; but how would you feel if you’ve been in pain for years and the only way you can feel slightly normal is with some pain meds? Or, what if you couldn’t get yourself to sit still and focus on studying without some Adderall? If we could live without the meds, most of us would. Hell, some of us may have tried quitting, but the withdrawal from pain meds, A.D.H.D. medication, antidepressants, or antianxiety meds could potentially be worse than dealing with the dependence.

We feel stuck and the medicine that was meant to help us has imprisoned us. We’re sick with it and we’re sick without it. What would you do? Each day is a struggle, and sometimes we get through the day without a hitch. Unfortunately, the days we stumble are the days others won’t ever forget.

The Cure:

Whatever the reason for our conditions, we’re always running this race towards normalcy. Some of us have been screwed since day 1 by being diagnosed with something that doesn’t have a cure. Some have something that will eventually kill them. Plenty of us have just been given advice on how to deal with the symptoms, but they don’t teach us how to handle the stigma towards mental illness.

The looks, the stares, the whispers we pretend not to hear when we take out our little orange bottles… it’s not fun. You didn’t suddenly get your M.D. or Ph.D. in psychology overnight, so stop the lectures on how you think we should handle things. Yeah, you might think the meds probably changed us, but only because the illness did first. We’re trying to make sure that what we’re dealing with won’t completely take over.

You wanna to talk about a cure? Fix the ignorance. Decide to educate yourself before you judge, that would be the biggest help. Be a good friend and help end the stigma. We are trying to be what we’ve been told to be. What you want us to be. At least we’re trying, can you say the same? To quote a favorite band of mine, Twenty One Pilots, “You don’t know my brain the way you know my name.”

With a different perspective, we can start to see some progress. We shouldn’t feel the need to come with “warning” labels. An open mind can go a long way.

 

Photo Source: www.psychologyandi.com


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