“Sometimes we have to look back and remember what life was like before being finally diagnosed with a mental and emotional illness. It is at times still difficult for me to talk about. I was first diagnosed in 2002 while in a behavioral and addictions crisis center via the hospital after my first failed suicide attempt, which included my severe gambling addiction.”
I happen to be reading a recent article I am about to share with you from the fine folks of “Psych Central” that hit home for me. It took me back years growing up before I was diagnosed with several mental health challenges, but looking back I remembered so many times I could pick out during my life that should have been possible warning signs for my parents, and “red flags” for me as I moved into adulthood.
I remember times when I was little, and would throw these awful tantrums from what my mother told me years ago, but I remember the aftermath when my mom would lock me in my bedroom and I would be lying on my tummy watching the footsteps pass back and forth my bedroom door. Or, when I rode in the car I would rock forward and back, and it would drive my dad nuts, so he would yell at me to stop! I always seemed to have to be moving and going all the time. Bipolar Anxiety I believe is what I was suffering. All of it had gotten worse after I had been sexually abused as a little girl. Hell, a lot came from PTSD I also was suffering but didn’t know or understand until I was diagnosed and when it came back to haunt me in my 30’s. It is some of why I turned to gambling.
In my teens, I would have times where I would be way up, happy, and chatty constantly and then? I would be very low, quite, and then isolate in my bedroom which now I know was depression, and kept right into adulthood. So, again, most of the article made me think back to those many memories and made them clear as to what was then, going on.
Many of us who were born in the early 60’s, and grew up in this period our parents had no clue about a mental illness. They just thought we were being fussy or just a bad kid. And yes, you can have anxiety and depression together. It is just a matter of which will be prevalent from day to day.
We know more today than ever with research, studies, and even with medications to treat the vast amount disorders. It is why we are seeing the explosion of many people coming out and talking about mental illness. I hope this article will help others have “self-awareness” and not be afraid to get help if you suffer from any mental and emotional health problems. . . . . As I watch the Democratic Convention today, right now, the first issues speakers are talking about? More Funding for Addiction and Treatment, and now Mental Illness. This is what we need. The people in our elected offices and government act and fund these issues. *Author,Catherine Townsend-Lyon*
Explaining utter darkness to someone who has only lived in the sunlight would be a difficult task. They would have to believe you and trust in something they have never experienced. If you haven’t experienced the darkness, perhaps after reading this you can help someone out of it.
When my eyes open in the morning, my mind goes from slumber to 100 mph. “I don’t know why I haven’t thought that! I need a (brain singing the Three’s Company theme song) new car! If I sold my current car and (dang I need a burger) sold my Xbox and TV I could afford the down payment and if I sell those baseball cards in the attic I can still pay rent! Wow! I am so handsome today! I know that I flunked out of college, but I am smarter than 90 percent of people so does it really matter? I want donuts. What DVDs do I have that I can sell to afford them?”
“Why did I sell that stuff? My wife is going to be so upset and those donuts were not worth it. Maybe I can buy them back. I’ll just need to grab my wife’s card when she is napping. No, I can’t because that will cause (you will do it) problems (you will do it) and (you will do it) I don’t want….
Back at the store:
“Didn’t you sell us these today?” (They noticed! You are so stupid!)
“Yes… I didn’t really mean to (you know they think you are crazy, right?)
“How do I explain this? (Say you got her birthday gift and it was a surprise! Her birthday isn’t for months and you can make that money back to really buy something!)
“I am so sorry I took your card, sweetie. I know I said I wouldn’t. Well, no, I feel fine. It wasn’t mania. Whatever.”
“I can’t sleep.” (You need a new guitar.)
“I want to sleep.” (Your kids will never love you when they experience what you are)
“I have to try to sleep.” (Work in seven hours) (Work in six hours) (Work in five hours)
Exceed in everything and then some due to my insane level of energy.
At home again:
“Can’t sit still … need to go.” (You are a terrible father) I just need to run to the store (stay with your kids, they love you. Are you a bad person?)
Rinse and repeat for a few weeks, then…
I am me. The Caleb I was when most of my old friends met me. The Caleb that loves to write music and play basketball. The Caleb that knows this can’t last long and soaks up every moment he can. I love the middle.
As I wake up, I wish I hadn’t. Take a look at my work to-do list and experience a high level of anxiety. That mental voice is not so active, but neither is mine. I feel a cloud of doubt and dread follow me all day, turning into a thunderstorm when faced with human interaction or hard times. The cloud sucks the life and desire for anything out of me.
I feel the weight of all my bad choices compounded with the reality that I am a finite being who will likely be forgotten soon after I am gone. Nothing I have done makes a difference to anyone. Trying to match my manic or normal self while depressed is next to impossible. I do not want to be around anyone due to the anxiety that they realize how messed up I really am. I try not to leave the house for as long as I can and wear the same clothes for as many days as I can.
I sometimes plan to take my life, but when I see my children and imagine what their future looks like without a dad I change my mind. This time.I am not suggesting that mistakes someone makes while manic or depressed don’t count. But I am hoping you can see how choices made in the extremes haunt the individual.
If a friend ever comments they are contemplating suicide, get them immediate help however you can. 1-800-273-8255 is the suicide prevention hotline and dialing 911 is an acceptable option as well. If your friend was having a heart attack there would be no hesitation. If they mention killing themselves, then I promise they have thought about it seriously.
Even the best friend in the world is no substitute for therapy. There are medical professionals who dedicate their lives to helping the mentally ill and it will do much more than any amount of “being there” can.
Take off the logical glasses you see life through and put on your empathy lenses. We might try to take advantage of your kindness. We might seem like we don’t care that you care. We might make you think we don’t appreciate you. But we appreciate it more than you can imagine. . . .
“HEAR MY VOICE of MENTAL ILLNESS”