Friday, January 6, 2012

Being a Mentally Ill Virginian

Whew, not sure where to start here.

Ok, I suppose I will begin with age 25, since that is when I was first diagnosed with anything psychiatrically.

Our daughter was 4 and a half years old almost and I was pregnant with our son. After I had him, I went into a post partum depression that turned into psychosis, rare, but it does happen and it happened to me.

We didn't know what to do, we were supposed to be happy, our family was blooming, and then boom, our world kind of caved in on us. About 2 weeks after having him, I was having severe issues of becoming suicidal for absolutely no reason whatsoever. Uncontrollable crying spells, overwhelming desires to die, and even attempts. This isn't how things were supposed to be. I was supposed to bring my new baby home, enjoy the company of my children and husband, but I couldn't, this was getting in the way. I went back to the OBGYN, because I couldn't take it no more.
The doctor said, it seems you have post-partum depression, here try this zoloft, it should help, well the side effects were too much so back in I went..he upped the dosage, it only gave me worse headaches, I began to not eat, for some reason I didn't think I deserved to eat, and still the same symptoms. I hadn't been eating well as it was, some days wouldn't eat at all, some days I might have eaten about the equivalent of a tater tot and that was it for the day, I began losing weight very fast, inevitably, I also began getting quite delirious, kept having to go for walks, which would earn me my first admission to a hospital.

This would begin a whirlwind effect. For years I would go in and out of hospitals sometimes days in between, sometimes weeks, eventually months, and currently if I am successful will be years..finally.
However, I wouldn't care if I never saw the inside of a hospital again. Too many traumatic situations, too many fights to come back from deadly situations.

Along the way I have seen and experience so many stereotysms, I've been called crazy, nut job, loon, stupid, ignorant, lazy, gullable, naive, lunatic, and so many many others. I choose to smile and go on, does it hurt? Well yeah, but those words were designed too hurt. When you look at what they were designed to do then you have to consider the person that uses them. Ive seen people and their reactions to me for the first time I spilled the words "I'm mentally ill" out of my mouth, I've seen the reactions, I've seen the whispering, I've seen people that could just care less as well, those people I like, but those people that give that first glance up and down at you, it already tells me what they think of me. And the first reaction I feel from them, is "defect"...or "worthless"..or "ashamed"..or "pity", or just simply "stupid" and "lesser value"...regardless of what they tell me, or what they know about my situation, that obliterates my situation right there, from the get go. I've had that very reaction from EMT's, from doctors, from police, from many positions of authority.
Sometimes, I do it on purpose, because it tells me what kind of person they are right off the bat. It's a pretty good indicator of a person that will think about it and like you despite it, or someone who will forever judge you on a situation they know nothing about. In reality, who becomes the stupid one then?

In Virginia, it's not easy to be a woman who is mentally ill, you are looked at as weaker, easier to intimidate and made extremely vulnerable. And it is true, bad guys pray on such things. And we are less likely to defend ourselves, less likely to report anything, and less likely to recieve justice when something does happen, because we are then predicted to be incapable of handling a trial and deemed mentally unstable enough to testify in court. And therefore, no justice sought or served, wow I imagine it saves this state alot of money and resources to keep that on the down low.

But what about the ones that are mentally ill, not weaker, not easy to intimidate, that were still made vulnerable, whom have learned to defend theirsevles, has the audacity to report, whom is capable of handling a trial, made to seem mentally unstable enough to testify, and still no justice sought or served?
Where are the mental health advocates now? Where were her rights in all of this? Who decides she has no rights to fight for or with? Did she lose all of her rights because of being mentally ill? That doesn't seem like a very fair trade for something she didn't cause herself.

I have toyed and toyed with this in my mind trying to figure out, why Virginia treats it mentally ill like criminals. There is a difference between criminal and mentally ill, and criminally insane. Yet Virginia is highly responsible for allowing media sites to air the status of a mentally ill person across tv when a crime has been committed as if it is any importance to the situation/incident. They obviously aren't aiming for sympathy, they are deliberately categorizing "mentally ill" and "criminal" into one, when indeed the majority of the mentally ill population are typically harmless at all. This my friends is stereotysm at it's best! Just another way to alienate the mentally ill and keep them feared in the eyes of the public. As if they don't have enough battles to fight on a daily basis. And most of them do what they can to be productive members of society, have hearts of gold, and enjoy some of the smallest things in life that most of the general public take for granted every single day. Maybe the only thing that is important is that the public feels safe, well I won't deny that one, the public indeed needs to feel safe, but every single person has experienced depression in their life at one point or another and the majority has experience having atleast one family member who has had some form of mental illness. It can happen at any time, to anyone, of any age, race, sex, or origin. If that is one thing about mental illness it certainly does not discriminate, it doesn't care what job you have, what you drive, how much your home is worth, or who you know. It is relentless, and it is not a curable illness, it is only manageable. There is never a recovery guarantee. Instead we have to rely on things like, hope, faith, encouragement, determination, and motivation. It is a daily process, at any point we lose any of those and it is like the rug jerked right out from under your feet all over again. Its a vicious cycle that never ends.

There is an inside look on my perceptions and experiences, I could talk all day and night on this issue, but I think I have pretty much made my point clear. Just the next time you look a mentally ill person in the eye, don't take for granted they don't understand or know what you think of them...don't have them feel ashamed for being mentally ill, or saying they are, its not something they should have to be ashamed of. Mental illness is a medical problem just because you don't see it doesn't mean it isn't just as important as diabetes or cancer or high blood pressure.

2 comments: said...

You have really been through it...we can all learn from your perspective!

Unbroken said...

Yes, I have, we all have our battles don't we? I've had a couple good friends help me to realize that, sometimes we can become so lost in our own we tend to forget we aren't the only ones that face them, I hope this will help others out there know, they aren't alone:)