From my four children, I have gotten four different concerns leading to the same question. Do i have mental illness?
Most recent incident of query occurred this weekend past, Although the approach has been different the resulting question is the same. Am i crazy too?
My response is one way or another a shrug of my shoulders.
An apology occurs with a reason behind their question. And then there is the discussion. It starts with an uncertainty about diagnosis. Did a a doctor tell you, or is it part of your shtick?
I have experienced the same symptoms since i was six years old It was [mis]labeled all sorts of things. I sunk with all the heaviness of an anchor pulling me to immobility and galloped with the unbridled strength and passion of a racing steed.
I saw doctors and was medicated, often for issues i didn't have because so many were afraid to say this little girl doesn't work quite like the rest of the world.
But i did. There are so many folks with something that's not quite right and being on this side of the fence; it's frustrating to see what's considered normal and shunned for not being it.
I heard on a television show [a long long time ago], All my life I've beaten myself up for not being normal. It turns out that i can't.
At thirty-four years old, when I was tired of running amok in my thoughts, I was hospitalized. Let me clarify: When i was ready to be treated, I was a hundred percent honest about that which I felt and thought. I told of my coping mechanisms and described my habits to get through the days lessening discomfort. I wanted to be well.
No longer did i answer the questions with responses that would lead to discharge from the physicians' care. No longer was i hiding from who i really was.
I don't want to be mentally ill; but, i am.
I was diagnosed Bipolar 1.
And now, my son tells me he's doing the same editing of information to get along with his days. But truly, something has always been different with him than the rest of the world. He never quite fit in. None of us do. I wonder who actually does fit?
In my adult years, I realize that my mother, my sisters, my brothers - We all have that something that is just not normal. The concern from my kids is valid, real and probably going to result in an affirmative response when the question finally gets answered. I jsut wish it wasn't labeled as it is.
Crazy. It's an easy word to say. It's an easy thing to feel and it's much more complex than many people know.
I messaged another mommy on a related topic... the questioning bit.... and it directly and indirectly applies here. She said, "You can find peace knowing he's struggling."
As awful as it may seem to to those not struggling with mental issues and parental concerns, it summed up everything i felt [including the misplaced guilt for being at peace with it].
My girls are vocal about their ups and downs. (They are NOT just mood swings!) We make jokes about what's going on inside and out of us [as a coping mechanism]. And in all this introspective progression and internal acceptance, there are those who say things like, "I'm depressed," when they mean they are sad. Or that everything can be fixed with ice cream. But my brain is not lacking sugar and cream. I have a chemical imbalance. It's not funny and it's not a passing feeling. Bipolar Disorder, Depression, Anxiety, mania, Psychosis - it's debilitating. The only thing that gets me up and moving some days is having been exposed to someone who let the blackness consume them.
Sure there are days that i wear the clothes i slept in and sleep in the clothes i worked in. But i'm moving through my days. And that is a step forward.
Last night, anxiety struck half way home in my commute. I was on a city bus about thirty-five blocks from my home. I couldn't breathe. I felt like a vice was tightening a corset around my middle while the boning pushed into my ribs stopping my breath and cramping my belly. I felt confined and like the bus was speeding too fast with too many passengers , until i noticed i was no where near my home. I was twenty-seven blocks away with an empty space that made me wonder if i had gotten off the bus to wait for another. i hadn't.
I walked to my house gasping for air and making my face with tears that didn't relieve the pain. I climbed into the bathtub. Hot water was too hot. Cold water was too cold. I could not get the temperature right. It wasn't just an adjustment. It was hurting my skin. My dog poked her head through the shower curtain and i realized, all this was me. Just me. I was alone. I am alone. I will be alone.
The anxiety lasted hours. I sat in the bathtub and talked myself away from the crying. I talked myself into easing the breath through me and releasing the cramping that my body was then experiencing. I thought about going to the hospital, fearing i couldn't cope one more time with this alone, but the thought of going outside the house sent another wave of discomfort through me.
And then it stopped. As fast as it came, it left. I could get air into my lungs again. My muscles were no longer tense. I felt like words came to me in linear thought instead of an ugly tangled ball of gibberish.
This morning i hurt. My stomach feels like i did a thousand sit ups. i did none. My arms and legs are fatigued like i walked a thousand miles. i walked down a city block. This is my regular after an anxiety attack.
I hate being crazy. I hate that the chemicals in my brain are not steadily released in a manner that keeps me, not just placid, but on a plateau of stable normalcy.
I digress to the question. THE QUESTION. I've heard, if you still question, you must not be... Well, i still question. I question if the textbooks are made up of other people hiding their symptoms because they are not ready for treatment yet. I question how this is irregular when this is all i've ever known. And i don't want my children [or anyone] to suffer and endure what i have. However, i am proud that they freely talk about it and question me. I haven't given them much, but i have given them this.