It took a long time before I could say those two simple words, but the truth is that I do have a mental illness. My primary diagnoses is severe depression and my AXIS-II (my secondary diagnoses) is a combination of features of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I didn't ask for it. I don't want it. I do my best not to use it as a crutch and I would give just about anything to be rid of it.
My depression began many years ago and built slowly. Over the past 3 or 4 years it has become acute and has required large doses of medication and weekly therapy. Most days it's not too bad. Everyday I have suicidal ideations, which simply means that the idea of suicide is compulsively on my mind all of the time. About 75% of the time it's easy to deal with and I am able to dismiss my craving (and that's what it is, a craving) to kill myself fairly easily. Another 24% of the time it requires more effort, but still in the end I get past it. About 1% of the time however, it's a real physical, mental and emotional struggle to stop myself from killing myself that leaves me exhausted and drained and in bed.
Why do I want to kill myself? Well, there is no obvious reason and that's the point. I have a pretty good life. My wife and I rent a really nice condo in Bel Air. She has a good job and supports me and even more is a Psychiatric RN with 30 years of experience, so she understands my problems. We are certainly not rich, but we do have a lifestyle that I suspect about one third of Americans would like to have. Our bills get paid, we have more then enough food to eat, a great (better then great) insurance policy that takes care of us medically (with unlimited mental health benefits) and (best of all) two spoiled rotten little Shih-Tzu dogs who own us. The point is that I have really nothing to be all that depressed about. I have no real reason to want to kill myself. Yet I am depressed and want to kill myself on a nearly daily basis. Which, I believe, shows that depression and mental illness can happen to anyone. I want to kill myself because I want to kill myself and there is no real reason why. That makes me physically/mentally ill.
My psychologist gave me a couple of DVDs that concern depression and mental illness and I was surprised to see on one of the DVDs that Katie Couric has the exact same compulsion to throw herself off from a balcony on a tall building when she's on one as I do (it really is the damnest feeling!). It doesn't make sense, but there it is. I was also surprised to learn that Chevy Chase withdrew from performing and acting for 5 years because he couldn't overcome his tiredness and lack of ambition. The point is, mental illness knows nothing about supposed happiness or wealth or love or hate. Mental illness is a physical illness. It is a disease. It is no different then diabetes or epilepsy or any other illness that we have come to understand, in spite of the strange symptoms.
I have been posting on Newsvine for more then two and a half years. During that time there have been other posters who have said (sometimes in jest and other times maliciously) "What? Are you crazy?" and "Do you take meds?" and "You should be medicated!" and "Are you a retard?" Well, I am medicated and thankfully so. Medications (after several years of finding and adjusting them) are making it easier for me to live my life. I will never be off from medications and they will need constant monitoring and adjustments by professionals to make sure I have some sort of normal life and that I don't give into the sweet siren call of suicide (and I really, really, really want to). I will forever need therapy, though I hope to stretch it out to once every 2 or 3 weeks, instead of once a week. I also know that I will never find employment in any of my previous jobs and will always have to find a way (if I can) to make money through solitary pursuits. These things have been more hard to accept then I think anyone outside of my position can understand.
I do NOT say any of these things looking for sympathy and in fact hate it. I am just trying to get more people to understand that mental illness is physical illness. No mentally ill person chooses the spot they are in. None of us are looking to be pitied. None of us want anything extra or special. We just want those who do not have our illness to understand that we don't want it either and to realize that it doesn't make us any less of human beings and any less of consideration as real people. We are you.
Still, mental illness has this incredible stigma that mostly comes from the ignorant and cold hearted. One in five people in the Western world have some form of mental illness and it's much worse in the third world. It can range from mild depression, to severe depression, to bi-polar disease to Schizophrenia to completely out of control mania. The symptoms are scary to the other four fifths and it leads them to treat us different and that is that exact wrong thing to do. Accept who we are. Like accepting that a person with one leg can not run against you, accept that a person with a mental illness has their handicaps also, even if you can't see them.
Anyway (that was exhusting), tell me. Do you have a mental illness? Do you know or love someone who does? Do you think we are something to be scared of or are freaks. Do you want to make fun of us?
Talk to me.