On top of all that, I’m stressed out… and as my Doc pointed out to me…NO amount of meds, sleep, therapy or denial will take that away. I just have to smile, manage it as
best as possible and endure it…somehow someway.
What does help me are people who are kind, caring and understanding. People who will listen without judgement, without being accusatory, without calling me “crazy” or “is there something wrong with you”? The answer is emphatically Yes, yes there is. And now that you know this fact, please just accept who I am. I need to feel loved, no matter how I am feeling or acting. At least I’m trying to change for the better…
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- Most people don’t realise that I learned to play classical guitar.
- Most people don’t realise that I wore built-up shoes as a child due to knock-knees.
- Most people don’t realise that I am genuinely ambivalent about Marmite.
- Most people don’t realise that I don’t recognise faces easily.
- Most people don’t realise that I have wanted to kill myself.
We hide, intentionally or not, many facets of our lives. Sharing everything would be information overload of the most intense variety. However, depression and mental illness are too often hidden because of stigma.
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Combined with the turbulence of mixed bipolar disorder, mental illness became the driver and I its unwilling passenger. I closed my eyes during those early months, refusing to see the cliff we were headed for. If I were to open my eyes, I would have lost control and be as weak as I had always feared. Once I did open my eyes, it was too late.
I am intelligent and capable, qualities I couldn’t reconcile with anxiety. A strong person wouldn’t take fifty consecutive pregnancy tests or make everyday decisions through self-torment and sleepless nights. They wouldn’t be repeatedly admitted to a psychiatric hospital, colouring in mandalas and making paper mobiles. They wouldn’t be consumed with suicide, punching themselves as punishment for their weakness. They would be able to get out of bed, shower, work and keep a clean house. They could achieve.
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It’s time to talk about this stuff. It is time to accept the reality of these disorders. They are complex and difficult to cope with. For people living with one it is a daily struggle, their loved ones overwhelmed and unsure of how to help.
I know personally about the daily fight. Coping with major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety is a constant battle. A battle usually being quietly fought on the inside, often with others blissfully unaware. I try very hard to ensure that people don’t know I am having a down day, but sometimes there is no hiding it. Sometimes it is simply beyond me. Even with medications that are definitely of great help, there is no cure. There is no magic pill that makes it go away completely. I have had several people assume that because I am on some meds I should therefore no longer have symptoms, and are perplexed when I say that I most definitely still do. I wish they worked that way….
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When I was first hit with the experience of psychosis I wondered what I had done wrong and how I could fix it. I searched the internet trying to find some words of comfort or something or someone that I could relate to. In 2007 I don’t think there was nearly as much information as there is now – especially on postpartum psychosis (the diagnosis I had been given at the time). The information I found was often vague and discouraging. Many of the things I read seemed to be telling me that I was more of a statistic than a person – and even an enigma. I longed to find the solution and fix it. Eventually I have come to find that this illness cannot be “fixed”, but it can be treated daily to be made strong. Just like a broken leg or a heart condition, a part of my body broke. Medical science does not know the specific cause for this – the answer is always best left at genetics plus environment. But this is an illness that can be stopped in its course to breaking point if we recognize the warning signs and treat it at the core. My warning signs were cyclothymic behavior since childhood, short-lived but frequent bouts of depression, and persistent social anxiety. If you have experienced any of these symptoms, please seek a good psychiatrist and a counselor that will help you discover and change thinking patterns.
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