I seem to be on a soapbox of anti-judgmental rhetoric here lately. Really, it is just a case of what is on my mind. For so many reasons, I have been thinking about mental illness lately and how society at large views those who are struggling with varying degrees of mental illness. From talking to many people I have discovered (maybe validated what I already thought) two things: most everyone has had some sort of personal experience with someone suffering from a mental illness and no one wants to talk about it. When someone says they have cancer (I'm not implying that cancer isn't horrible, I know all too well how terrible it is), people fall all over them selves to sign up for dinner brigades and organize 5 Ks. Tell someone that you are trying to manage a mental illness and they take 2 steps back from you, both literally and figuratively.
I can only speak from my personal experience. When I started telling people that I had panic attacks and anxiety and had taken medication for it, they started treating me differently. I felt damaged in their eyes. They just didn't seem to know what to say. Maybe this was all my perception, I'm not sure. I do know that time and time again, I've heard people say that those with anxiety and depression need to just "shake it off" or "get over it." Trust me when I say, there is no experience like feeling irrational and knowing as an intelligent adult that what you are feeling is irrational, but you are powerless to stop it or change it. It is like having your body over taken by an alien being.
I've posted about taking Zoloft before and how much it helped. It helped supply my body with the chemicals I needed to lead a happy life. Don't we all deserve a happy life? Once I felt more balanced, I was able to learn ways to focus myself, so panic didn't take over. After awhile, I was able to wean off of the medicine and continue to use the strategies to calm myself. I use lots of Yoga, deep breathing, and music. I also pray quite a bit (odd coming from a lapsed UU, but here it is). I still get hit with them, especially when I am stressed. I still fell like I have to hide them. The only one that I ever tell is Rob. If most people paid attention, they know when I was having an attack. I get super quiet, very unfocused, and pretty impatient. It is hard to field 20 questions when every decisions feels like it is life or death. Not everyone is able to stop taking medication. Medication is not a crutch, anymore than glasses are
I feel like I need to end with a disclaimer about being all right and nobody needs to worry. I also feel like a hypocrite. Why do I feel the need to hide who I am? Especially, when on the grand scheme of things my situation is mild. This feels like a chicken or egg situation. What needs to happen first: more people speaking out about their struggles and pain or more people being open to hearing about it without pity or judgement? I don't want pity and I don't want to be judged. I am not flawed and God knows that I am not weak. I have spent too much of my lifetime thinking that. I want to show my girls a different way to live. They have my genes, there is every chance that one or both will inherit this. I want them to be able to be open and ask for help. I want them to get stronger by being accepted. I guess this is me speaking out. Ball's in the next court.