Mental Health Collection: Janet's Story
Here it is! Our first guest blogger! I have known Janet for 5 years now, and we have always had a special connection as we are very open and honest with each other about our mental health. Although we don't see each other on a daily basis, I know that she would be there for me in a heart beat if I needed her. Below, Janet writes about her struggle with being bipolar, and suffering from depression.
Shrieking at the man I love more than anything in the world – “I’ve had it I’m leaving! You’re such an ass! You don’t love me. All you want is a farm hand and maid who sleeps with you. I’m out of here!” My mouth is saying things that my mind and heart know are not true. As the words spew out of my mouth, I am horrified by what I am saying; but unable to stop. I’m out of control – again.
Laying in bed and bawling – not softly crying, but keening and holding my breath crying. So sad and exhausted I am unable to drag myself out of bed. Hands covering my face because it feels safer that way. The truth is I don’t even know why I am crying. I just can’t stop!
Suicide no longer horrifies me – it used to be an option to deal with the darkness. I had to put a calf down once and my thoughts were, “Gee, I thought it would be messier than that. Maybe this wouldn’t be such a bad way to end the pain.”
The flip side of my disease - I am invincible. I can do anything better than anyone else. I don’t need to sleep because I’m super woman. I do things that I am ashamed of, but at the time they seemed to be a great idea. I can start crochet projects, crafting projects, writing, and take a new course on the internet all at the same time. However, only half of these are completed before I crap out overwhelmed by it all.
I am bipolar and suffer with depression. I have a mental illness. I am not ashamed of who I am or the illness I have.
I like to compare my illness to diabetes. Why? Mental illness is the same as physical illness. I need medication, I must have 8 hours of sleep, I have dietary restrictions, and I need to see my health care specialist on a regular basis. There are relapses, and constant monitoring is required. Only by educating yourself can you be aware of the triggers that can bring forth another event. Bipolar disorder, like diabetes, can be hereditary. And probably the most important similarity – they can both be deadly if untreated.
The illness itself is often accompanied by a whole bunch of side effects that can not only affect the disease but the way we deal with it. I struggle with my weight because some of the meds cause weight gain. On my meds, I don’t have the lows; but the highs, the creativity, the superwoman – they all just disappear. I still struggle with being in large groups of people. You know what – I wouldn’t change a thing. Those meds allow me to cope, I am happy, and I am healthy.
The biggest step is the first one. Admitting that you need help and seeking it out is hard because there is still a stigma attached to mental illness – we’re the crazy people, the lazy people, the attention seekers, and many other tags. Wrong - we are suffering from an illness. Sometimes it’s hard to get the help you need because you don’t want people to know. There are people out there that can assist you to find the help you need. They might be your doc, mental health professional, a teacher, your family, or someone you know you can talk to and share with. Mental health is not a weakness. It takes a hell of a strong person to take that first step and deal with this disease.
I started at a walk-in clinic because I couldn’t get in to see my GP. The next day I saw my doc who referred me to a psychiatrist. My psychiatrist felt that working together with a psychologist would be beneficial, and they all encouraged me to attend group therapy sessions. We work together as a team toward a common goal – good health. It didn’t happen overnight, and it was a year plus filled with trial and error to find the right treatment.
A couple years ago, I joined the “Bell let’s Talk” movement and shared my experiences with mental health at my local church. I was surprised and pleased to learn that many (and I mean a lot) of those attending admitted to suffering from a mental illness at some point in their lives. Some had already sought out help and others were encouraged to take that first step. If sharing my struggle with bipolar disorder and depression will help a single person with mental health issues take that first step, my day is awesome.
I am comfortable with my illness. I can joke, laugh, and share without feeling any shame. Life is good and so am I.
Thank you Janet, for your honesty and openness. I know from personal experience how hard it is to get your words out and talk about your mental health. Love and hugs!!
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