It’s Mental Health Awareness Month so some people expect me to write about mental health, except that if you read here you’re already perfectly aware that I’m mentally ill so this feels a bit pointless. But what if we change the game a little?
Share with me. In the comments, or on your own platform, or both. Almost everyone will battle mental illness or will be impacted in the struggle to help a loved one with their mental illness, so “awareness” isn’t really the issue for me. Cures, support, feedback, tools that work...those are the things we reach for in the dark. So let’s share…
How has mental illness affected you personally? What did you learn from it that might help others?
How has mental illness affected me personally: I have a host of issues but I’m most affected by Avoidant Personality Disorder which is like anxiety disorder on speed. It’s scary to talk about. When I tell people I have a personality disorder they try to convince me that I don’t. This is not helpful. It’s perfectly well-meaning but it’s like saying “You couldn’t possibly have anything so terrible as that” when in fact, I do. And lots of other people do too but they don’t say it out loud because they’re afraid of how they’ll be perceived. Then it becomes even harder to say it because everyone else is too afraid to say it (with just cause) and I can’t even blame them because being afraid to admit you have a personality disorder whose main symptom is crippling fear is a catch-22 and pretty fucked up. It’s like having to raise your hand to ask for help in attaching your prosthetic arms.
What did I learn from it that might help others: I’ve learned I’m not alone even when I feel completely isolated and like a failure. I’ve learned that depression lies. I’ve learned that when I’m not affected by my fucked-up brain chemistry I can see that my brain is not to be trusted so I write notes to myself when I’m out of the hole to remind myself that I’ll be okay again soon. I get sun. I take meds and therapy. I laugh loudly and often when I’m out of the hole because I know the importance of appreciating the good and the joy when it comes. I let myself be sad when I need to be. I watch ridiculous tv and listen to happy songs. I practice creating an invisible mental barrier around my body when I feel overwhelmed by other people’s energy. I call the suicide hotline if things get bad. I donate to suicide hotlines when I can. I allow myself to say no. I reach out on the internet because I can find friends to talk to or to inspire me who understand when I’m too afraid to even pick up a phone. I find a family member to help me when I think I need extra supervision. I thank people who help save me. I try to save them back. I hide in blanket forts with my cats and a collection of funny books or kick-ass comics. I share what helps. I learn from others.
PS. This is my playlist that keeps me upright when my head is full of marbles. Feel free to share your own.