“One of the things that baffles me (and there are quite a few) is how there can be so much lingering stigma with regards to mental illness, specifically bipolar disorder. In my opinion, living with manic depression takes a tremendous amount of balls. Not unlike a tour of Afghanistan (though the bombs and bullets, in this case, come from the inside). At times, being bipolar can be an all-consuming challenge, requiring a lot of stamina and even more courage, so if you’re living with this illness and functioning at all, it’s something to be proud of, not ashamed of. They should issue medals along with the steady stream of medication.”
And yet, some people forget this, including “mental health professionals”.
Has this happened to anyone else?
Facebook needs to institute a better policy involving “friending”. Even with strict filtering, I have people sending me friend requests simply because they like something I’ve said. Why in the world would you want to be “friends” with someone who is simply the same astrological sign as you, or just happens to also be a writer/editor? I understand when people say they’re an “aspiring writer”. They want to see what they can learn from you. I am a very open person, BUT when it comes to my WIP’s, I am not about to post them anywhere for the entire world to see. I don’t want or need a critique, I don’t need someone to tell me how to be a better writer, etc. I have been doing this for 28 years this month. I know my shit. If I didn’t, I would never have continued to return to it, be it as a source of inspiration for myself or as a source of income.
Moreover, if a person openly declares themselves a “sociopath”, you probably DON’T want to accept the friend request that is sent to you an hour later simply because they “like” an intelligent and/or helpful comment that you’ve made. I keep my “inner sociopath” to myself. I do let her out on special occasions though, when a person is deserving of dealing with it. 😉
One interesting thing that caught my eye over the past couple of days was an article that other writers and aspiring writers were contributing to. I want to say that it was more a group of highly creative individuals, so there were songwriters and artists also involved in the conversation. It began with a question: “How many of us suffer from bipolar disorder or other forms of depression or anxiety?”
Nearly a hundred different people (it might have been more, this has been a rough week for me in terms of keeping in touch with others) responded with various responses that said yes and each of them explained their diagnoses. Only four or five people said they suspected they suffered from some sort of depression, but that it had never been diagnosed. About the same amount, more or less, said they did not suffer from depression.
I was very proud of everyone for openly, honestly discussing bipolar disorder, anxiety, OCD, and a plethora of other forms of “mental illness”. It hurts me to use that term AT ALL. I don’t see every single person as “mental” and I cringe when people refer to others in such a way, as opposed to educating themselves. An illness is an illness. I would never tell someone they were responsible for getting sick in the first place, but MANY do say shit like that. It baffles me. Some people even discussed varying degrees of autism. That takes incredible courage. One of my cousins is autistic, so I’m not ignorant there.
When confronted with my own mental health, I am supremely honest, but I do not advertise it. I am going through something that has made me full-blown OCD, exacerbated my PTSD to levels I didn’t even know existed, and my anxiety is so bad, I can barely sleep most nights without waking up screaming, sometimes from pain, sometimes from my medication wearing off too quickly.
From day one, I have openly, and very honestly discussed suicide. This makes people uncomfortable because they REFUSE to face the fact that they’ve romanced the idea themselves. No one can tell me they suffer from any form of depression and have NEVER considered suicide. It might have been a fleeting thought, it might be something you NEVER act on, but it still exists. This is a trigger for a lot of people. They lash out at me and decide I am no longer worth their time, all because I was HONEST. Catch me on a dark day and I might scare you with my truth, but anyone who genuinely cares about you will give you their time and concern, they will not pretend you’re “mental” or tell you to “take a pill”. Those are two of the most insulting things to tell someone.
I once had a woman piss me off at the grocery store. I was going through a stressful time with my father’s health and, in front of her children (both of whom were under the age of 12, but not younger than 8 or 9), she told them to “Get away from her, she’s “mental”. I might THINK a person is batshit in a public place, but unless they’ve caused harm to someone or they’re about to hurt themselves, I’m not stupid enough to go there.
Truth is, they were standing in front of a huge display of fruit for nearly ten minutes and wouldn’t move out of the way. How do you not tell your young kids to move over so other people can shop too? She was talking to them like they were infants, as opposed to children that have the ability to comprehend. The comment was completely out of line and off base. I turned to look at her, contemplated knocking her teeth out, and then looked at her a second longer with her kids. I felt incredibly sorry for them. I then politely took the fruit I wanted and said “Did you learn that in your many years of therapy? You might not want to pre-judge people based upon your own issues.”, and I walked away. She was left in the dust, unable to speak, because I called her on her shit.
I don’t need that kind of false denial in my life, not from any one. You don’t have to like me or love me, but I guarantee that with an open mind, you will respect me. I would never intentionally hurt someone with my candor, and it’s okay to say “Lisa, I care about you, but this upsets me too much to discuss any further.” It’s called COMMUNICATION.
I have lost people to suicide because they had no one they felt would truly listen and hear them out or “make it stop”. I’ve stopped myself many times from acting on a thought because I believed it was irrational and felt it was wrong to leave any one of 4-5 people in my life behind to discover what I’d done, or have to receive the phone call that just plain brings you to your knees. It would devastate four of them. The last person probably wouldn’t give a shit or so much as come to my funeral. I’m not a priority now, why would I be a priority then?! (Yes, that was morbid and I apologize. Two, you’d understand why I said that if you knew who I was talking about and how they have treated me.)
Being honest about what I suffer from, including migraines and Fibromyalgia/Chronic Pain is part of what keeps me alive. The other part is that I am responsible for little people that love me and would have terrible difficulties without me. And even still… I often find myself thinking “This isn’t enough to live for.” It’s not coming from a selfish place, it’s coming from a place of wanting to be better, to strengthen the relationships in my life, to bring other relationships into my life and allow them to flourish. I cannot live for one thing and one thing alone. That’s my personal take on it, but it might not be yours, and that’s okay. I’m by no means here to judge you.
I want to thank the people that have supported me this past week through a living nightmare. I am surprisingly uplifted by the emotional support, care, concern, dedication, determination, and devotion. Only ONE person said “I’m proud of you.” When you’re going through hell, you do not want to be pitied, treated like a failure, or be belittled and/or disrespected. You simply want to be treated like the person that you are. I had to be reminded that I am strong, smart, and capable in the face of others trying to crush my soul. Bad things happen to all of us at some point in life. I may have been given a higher dose, perhaps God shouldn’t trust me so much, but it is what it is, and I am making peace with it.
I refuse to allow anyone to make me feel small in order to raise their own self-esteem.
If you’re honest and upfront about any illness, I applaud you. If you’re a loyal, supportive person to those that you love, I also applaud you. Compassion & genuine kindness is severely underrated.
“Things” do not make you who you are. It’s what’s inside your heart and soul that is the true value of self. The trappings are pure nonsense. They do not define you. I wish I’d understood some of that for the past ten years, but now that I do, I am determined, now more than ever, to persevere and make important things happen.
This phoenix has been reborn. Stay the hell out of my fire.
copyright © 2015 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.