I haven’t always felt it over the last few years, but I am not a dumb person. I try really hard to make sure that I’m being thoughtful, reasonable, and wise when I make decisions. I’m a person who tends to think a lot about what she says before she says it.
Yet, more often than not, people look at my diagnoses before anything else.
Too many times, I’ve tried to express opinions or concerns about my treatment and been met with patronization and dismissal. I walk into appointments and before I even have a chance to say anything about myself, it’s assumed that I’m so broken that everything needs to be spoon-fed to me in the most child-friendly, bite-sized pieces. It goes beyond trying to be understanding or accommodating. It’s a lack of respect.
As you can probably guess, I’m fairly open about my mental health issues; it’s not something that I’m ashamed of and I talk about it when I can. However, there’s another facet to my mental health that I’ve never really spoken about, but which has been in my life for much longer. I’ve only recently come to grips with something I’ve really know all along: my problem eating is not just a symptom of my depression, it’s something much more than that.
I saw a different psychiatrist a couple of months ago (back in the in-between), and along with suggesting new medications and treatment options, he was also very validating and frank about my eating. When I mentioned that I struggled with my eating, he asked for more details and we talked about my feelings surrounding my disordered eating. He diagnosed me with Binge Eating Disorder.
It is hard to talk about mental health. It’s still hard for me, and I have too many years of practice doing it.
These days, I make a conscious effort to be open about my mental health, but I wasn’t always that way. I’ve felt the undercurrent of depression since before I was in high school. When it started to get debilitating, I hid it from myself and those close to me. It took me months to tell my parents and even longer to tell anyone else. How could I describe what I was feeling if I didn’t understand it myself?
The Problem: The ‘Sick-Enough’ Debate
My depression has always tried to convince me that I’m exaggerating. My depression tells me that I’m not sick — instead, it’s some collection of personal flaws of mine. I’m not demotivated or fatigued; I’m lazy. Sensitivity turns into weakness; sadness turns into entitled whining and even more weakness.
I run away from everything. In the last (almost) four years, it has seemed like there is almost nothing too big for me to run from.
Here’s the test: am I going to have to take responsibility? Admit fault? Will I have to be vulnerable, talk about my deficits, or parts of my past? Well then, I just won’t. I’ll lie, hide, run, do anything to avoid the emotion. I can lie without a second thought if it means that I won’t have to acknowledge difficult emotion.
The habit snuck up on me, really. It started so simply: I can’t call into work and tell them that I’m too depressed to get out of bed, so I actually have food poisoning. It might be a couple days.
Oh, shoot, I just spent $1,000 on things that I thought would make me feel better and now I can’t pay off my credit card. (Wait, what credit card?)
What’s the in-between? It’s the sludgy road from outreach to treatment. The seemingly never-ending battle to convince professionals that you’re sick enough (but not too sick) for treatment. Every day, patients in first-world countries are waiting for treatment for months at a time, and that’s where I am now.
At the end of July, I had my last day of work following my three-weeks’ notice of resignation. The job wasn’t the best for me in many ways, but my main concern was how quickly my mental health seemed to be deteriorating. Even though I was still functioning well, waking up on time, missing little work, and seeming in control of my emotions, I was worried. I’ve seen my relapses come out of nowhere before and I was determined put my foot to the metal to make sure I could cushion my crash as much as possible.
Well, the last two weeks, I haven’t written much (or at all) and I’ve missed it. Just like it did before I started my blog, I’ve sat at my computer and written a few sentences before my mind went completely blank. To be honest, I hated it, but this is what my life is like with depression: it was something so simple that I’d been really enjoying and I couldn’t bring myself to do it. If I were to be more fair to myself, I would admit that I’ve had a lot going on in the last two weeks.
Most importantly, though, these last couple of weeks have felt like something is actually happening and have filled me with a renewed sense of direction and dedication in my recovery. I’m not necessarily feeling better, I just have some strength and passion back. It feels wonderful.
Well, I’ve (finally) made the decision to share my blog on my personal Facebook page this Tuesday for World Mental Health Day! For the last few years, I’ve watched awareness days and weeks pass by while telling myself each time that I’ll post something, say something, but I never have. Every year, after it’s too late, I regret not posting anything.
Mental health awareness, education, and advocacy is super important to me (for mostly obvious reasons) and I’ve rarely shied away from talking about it. Except when it comes to Facebook; I’ve never really mentioned anything about mental health on my most public forum.
I’ve talked a little about how nervous I was to start my blog, and I think that the same goes for posting it on Facebook. But ultimately, it’s something that’s important to me. I’m not ashamed of my illness and it’s important to talk about it, so I will.
No, seriously. I’m asking. What do I do when someone doesn’t want my help?
I tweeted about Anxiety Erica’s post on codependency last week, not only because I think it’s a great post but also because I think it talks about codependency in an unexpected way. It was a post that I could really relate to and one that has really stuck with me. Here’s the point in her post where I had my ‘Aha!’ moment:
Most people have this notion that codependency means you’re "addicted" to each other in a relationship, but it can mean that you’re addicted to helping. Always the cheerleader, encourager, or even mother in any relationship, you are the healer. They come to you for solace, comfort, and contentment.
I do that. I’ve always done that. My siblings (and parents) have bugged me for ‘mothering’ them for as long as I can remember, and so have friends.
I’m sad to report that the quasi-writer’s block from my first post has struck me again these last few days, and I am now writing this post the night before it is scheduled to be posted. For me, this isn’t normal.
Truth is, I’ve had a terrible week. I’ve been super depressed and demotivated and I’ve spent a lot of time doing nothing. I’m not super sure why this week was a week where I got worse, but there isn’t always a concrete reason.
I didn’t sleep last night and I had a rough morning trying to follow up on referrals that my family doctor was supposed to have made; turns out she didn’t actually submit them all. It’s been over a month since I had my appointment with her and today I followed up on the other programs.
I have no doubt that this post is going to be much harder write than the last one, but it’s also something that has helped me to talk about. I’ve only told a few people the details of my night in the hospital, and it’s a hard memory. The thought of putting it out there attached to my name is terrifying, but, here goes nothing…
Thirteen months ago, I had my worst night so far (and hopefully ever). I can’t even remember why I started crying, but I know that I once I did, I didn’t stop for hours.
I was home with my sister and she was upstairs. I have no idea what she was feeling or thinking, and I’ve been too afraid to ask her since. I just know that she couldn’t come downstairs and hug me no matter how hard I begged.