Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Mental illness is not evil

My friend posted a very wise and extremely brave post on Facebook today. She gave me permission to share, although I choose to keep this anonymous.

I wanted to project her words beyond her Facebook friends, because this is a very important discussion that our nation needs to have. No more hiding this very real issue.

To my dear friend, you floored me today. I am proud of you and love you! 

- - - -
I am coming out of the closet. Not that kind of closet, another one. For the past 12 years I have struggled with a mental illness. It's been a "dirty little secret" I felt like I had to hide. I have a severe form of bi-polar disorder. 
"Oh no! Look out! She's crazy!!!" When I hear people say that this kid in CT was evil, it pains me. There is a difference between evil and mental illness. I am
tired of the stigma that mental illness carries with it and the labels people put on those who suffer from it. We are made to feel as if it is something to be ashamed of. 
In 2005, I attempted suicide. I know first hand what it is like to be unable to control your thoughts, your emotions, and your impulses. Many years ago, I did things that were out of my character that could have destroyed my life and hurt those around me. I struggle with that guilt even today. But, much of it was due to the fact that I was not receiving adequate mental healthcare and was not properly medicated. I have had many good doctors and many bad ones. I had several that were completely apathetic, negligent and unresponsive to my cries for help. As evidenced by all of the recent shootings, I am not alone in that experience. The theater shooting in Colorado did not have to happen. The guy sent letters to his psychiatrist and even told them what he planned to do and no one responded. When mental healthcare providers do not fulfill their obligations to their patients, people's lives are affected. People die. 
In April, I had a provider drop me for missing an appointment because my children were sick. I had expressed suicidal ideation the month before and was in the middle of post partum depression and was unstable. She did not give me notice and did not adequately provide medication until I could find a new doctor. As a result, my ability to function was affected, therefore affecting the lives of my family. It caused my condition to worsen due to her negligence and I am still not yet recovered. Since then, I have had to start all over from square one to try to find medication that works. People don't realize it's not a quick fix. It can take many months, even years to find the right medications. 
I am thankful for the support system I have of my parents, my understanding husband and an awesome therapist. If I did not have those people in my life, I am convinced I would not be alive. So, you can judge people all you want. You can call people names like crazy, psycho, evil or lazy. But, do not assume you have ANY idea what kind of HELL these people live in and the burdens they carry in their minds. Do not assume they can just "snap out of it," push themselves, or "know better." If you believe that, you are ignorant of the facts. Reporters are stupid and they are infuriating me with their wreckless comments. If you had a chemical imbalance in your brain, you could be one of them too. 
I'm posting this in hopes that those of you who know me will see me for who I am, not what I am and to ask you to join me in FIGHTING THE STIGMA of mental illness. Stigma holds many people in need of help from pursuing it. Many people with bi-polar are successful and have accomplished amazing things. But, the rock bottom times can make even the most successful people feel worthless. I am struggling right now and my condition has not been this bad since 2005. I had been stable for 7 years. You see the happy face but you never know what is going on inside of someone. Thankfully, I have a doctor who is accessible, responsive, and proactive. I take my medication as prescribed and do not abuse drugs or alcohol. I try to eliminate stressors that serve as triggers and also try to get regular sleep. 
Please remember, all mentally ill people do not have access to good support systems like family, friends, and good health care and that can mean the difference between life or death. Please don't judge when you have never experienced it yourself. I am my own advocate, but also an advocate for others. Mental healthcare issues needs to be a HUGE part of the recent discussions. That is all.
-Copied from a friend's Facebook wall-
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