I'm a mentally ill person raising another mentally ill person. With chickens.

Posts tagged ‘mental-health’

Decided I needed more space to answer these questions:

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How has mental illness affected me personally:  I have bipolar disorder, type 2. I also have an ADHD diagnosis. My son has autism, and my daughter has ADHD. So mental illness is the everyday norm around here. My bipolar isn’t the interesting kind that you see on TV with people going off their meds and then becoming a complete wild child. It’s mostly depression where I sleep and eat a lot mixed in with periods of time where I can get a lot done but don’t always have the best judgement. I’ve never heard voices, or ran around naked, or stolen anything.  My first manic episode, and probably most manic thing I’ve ever done, is marry my first husband on a whim. It was a random weekday, he asked, I said sure, two hours later it was done. Impulsivity is a thing I’ve learned to watch for now, but at 21 I had no idea that anything was up. Oddly, I WAS seeing a counselor at this point, and had been for some time, and she never suggested bipolar disorder either, even though when I look back on this time period it seems pretty obvious.
Having a mental illness makes simple things harder for me. I’m easily overwhelmed by tasks that aren’t broken down into small steps. Like housekeeping. I look around and just see the giant mess and don’t know where to start, so I just don’t start because that’s easier (even though I prefer order). Oddly, I manage my children’s issues pretty well, I’m just exhausted by them fairly often. I find that everyday interactions with people are often rather exhausting. But if I’m even a little bit manic the opposite is true. It’s a weird thing, but on a Myers Briggs test I will score as extroverted if I’m a bit manic, and introverted if I’m a bit depressed.
Having a mental illness, and then having my first child be mentally ill as well made me rather reluctant to have a second child. There are eight and a half years between them, and my daughter was honestly quite a surprise. A very good surprise. But pregnancy and bipolar disorder was challenging, because the medications I was on were not safe for the baby, so we had to find something to use to keep things mostly normal. The drug we used wasn’t ideal, I gained way too much weight, but my mood was good without being too good, so overall it was a success. I did not breastfeed, getting back to my meds and avoiding a postpartum crash was just too important.
I can think of many ways my illness has changed my life from what I thought it would be. I studied to be a teacher and a mental health counselor, but I’m not. I’m a stay home mom whose main job these days is chaeuffeur. Sometimes I am frustated by the fact that I have no career, that I am completely dependant on my husband, but most days it’s ok. I’m a big believer in the idea that things work out the way they’re supposed to.

What did I learn from it that might help others:  In my first graduate class the professor made a comment about people with mental illnesses being drawn to the counseling profession, and that it wasn’t appropriate for them to work in the field because they weren’t mentally fit. I was angry about this comment, but I didn’t say anything, and I hid my illness from everyone in my department for the next three years. And that was wrong of me. That professor was wrong to make a blanket statement about “people with mental illnesses” and I let her intimidate me into hiding and I shouldn’t have. Don’t hide your illness because you’re afraid of what people will think. It’s just an illness like diabetes or lupus or arthritis. You take your medication and you go to your therapist, same as anyone with any illness, and you learn to live with it just like anyone else. When you hide it you’re saying it’s ok for people to stigmatize mental illness and it is not ok at all. We are as important and valuable as anyone else. Never be ashamed of your disorder, and never apologize for it. It’s part of what makes you, you.
I have a much easier time saying those things than I do actually acting on them, especially when it comes to my kids. I do find myself apologizing for their behaviour more than I should. It is what makes them unique, and I should be happy just to have healthy, happy children, not apologizing for their lack of perfection.
The one thing that has helped me the most along the way is learning to share that I have an illness. I’ve found that when I have opened up about my own illness I have found a community of others who have similar issues and who were also looking for someone who understood. None of us are alone in this

Swirling brain

Sooo.  I thought I was done until after Christmas, but then CT happened and now this morning my kids’ school went on lock-down and I just have a bad case of swirling brain.  That’s what I call it, I think the technical term is “racing thoughts” and all of us bi-polar people get them I guess.  All I know is there is more STUFF in my head than fits, and it makes me rather surly, so I’m going to try to get it out in an orderly fashion.

First of all, I wasn’t going to talk about the Newtown shootings.  I just wasn’t.  I have a daughter in 2nd grade and she truly is a miracle baby and I just can’t even wrap my head around someone doing that to her.  SO I won’t.  I know that’s kind of Scarlett O’Hara thinking, but I just will not think about it if I can help it.

I will however argue til I’m blue in the face about the fact that we need tougher gun control laws.  I think that as our country has become more owned by special interest lobbies regulation of everything protecting the average person has casually–in the name of freedom, no less–gone by the wayside. And the NRA is unfortunately the biggest of the special interest groups.  They spend BILLIONS of dollars every year scaring people into believing that there is an imminent, Nazi-style,  government take-over and that owning a gun will save them from such a fate; their dues and donations foster racial unrest by convincing white America that every brown and black person has an illegally obtained firearm so they must own 10 legally obtained firearms “for protection”.   And are we safer? No.  Because gun violence occurs in homes, between people who know each other.  Because children think guns are like on TV and video games and raid their parents’ arsenals’ and take them to school and to the park and to their rooms.   And does the NRA care that accidents happen? That suicides happen?  That Newtown happened?  Not really.  Do I think that there will actually be a change in gun laws?  Not really.  But I firmly believe that there should be.

Which leads me to my morning.  So shortly after my kids got to school we got School Reach messages (robocalls from our kids’ school).  The first one was from the high school where my son is:  It said that they were on administrative lockdown because of “Facebook posts and a suspicious person”.  The next one was from my daughter’s elementary school saying they were also on administrative lockdown.  These calls, in an attempt to be reassuring I guess, said not to call the school or to come get your child because everything was fine.  Seriously?????  Who would possibly believe that????  About 45 minutes later we got a call from elementary school saying lockdown was over, still don’t call or pick up our children.  Fifteen minutes after that, similar from the HS with emphasis on Aberdeen Police Department having been at the school.  If you knew anything about our police department (officer fired in January for hitting a house with his police car!) you would not find that very reassuring.  And they said they were just going to continue as normal.  GRRRRR.  Seriously, no one was doing much today. just do an early release.    This is a town FULL of guns.  Literally bursting at the seams with them.  Everyone hunts, and dead everything with fur is worth money even if you can’t eat it.  The trap shooting scores are in the paper next to the bowling and softball scores.  GUNS are everywhere.  And every kid has an arsenal they can raid (its scarier when you call it an arsenal, which is what it is!) so if you know a kid wants to go down in flames and take the school with him, AND its the day before Christmas break, fucking call the day.  I know you’re worried about future snow days, but have some priorities!

ANYWAY.  I realize I’m running long, and not making a ton of sense (although I feel MUCH better, thanks)  but I do need to say a word about mental health.  Actually I need to say this:  I do not use racial slurs, or the R word.  I do not use crass names for people of other sexual orientations.  I would like the same courtesy extended to myself please. You do not get to call me crazy, or nuts, or a nutjob, or a whack job, or whacko, or bonkers, or insane (unless you’re my lawyer) or disturbed, or a freakazoid, or a weirdo, or anything else that pops into your mind.  I might call myself any number of those things because I am actually mentally ill, and when I do it its self-deprecating humor.  When you do it, its rude.

Shut up about it already

Blah.  I am in a dull grey sort of mood.  I don’t quite know where to start today, but I feel like I better do something because yesterday I didn’t write anything.  And because I’m currently sharing computer with super gaming addict spouse who will be home soon and then opportunity will be lost for the day.  But blah is about all I have to say.  Sigh.

Last night I was in the mood to rant, but I’m kinda over it now I think.  Here’s the thing:  A lot of the people I know act like I should go back to work, or are super put-out by my disability and medicare.

I won my disability case.  AGAIN.  I was on disability before, for like 10 years.  I went back to work and school because husband complained constantly that my check wasn’t big enough.  Well of course it wasn’t, I’d been a student for most of my life, and I’d been fired from every real job I’d had.  THEN I made too much money (at my part-time job????) to keep said check and its accompanying benefits and got kicked off of disability and had to reapply for it BECAUSE even though I have a Master’s degree now (husband enjoyed student loan checks when starting his business) I’m never going to be a good employee or get hired by anyone here.  I almost didn’t graduate more than once (in both undergraduate and graduate degrees).  I took incompletes and changed internship sites because I couldn’t get a long; I honestly graduated by the skin of my teeth.  And while I’m fairly decent at doing the actual counseling work (I think) I will never ever be able to keep up with the paper work.   On top of that, this is a very small community and I am what’s considered an SPMI (Severely and Persistently Mentally Ill) client.  Everyone in the field knows that, they talk. So who is realistically going to hire me?

I am not going back to work.  I’m not going to jeopardize the small disability check that I just won AGAIN (it is not easy to win a disability case based on a mental illness because you LOOK fine) and the medicare that I desperately need, because other people are unhappy with their financial situations.  I am sorry that you don’t think its fair, but you know what?  I don’t think its fair either.  I would much rather be going to work from 9-5 every day like everyone else.  I had planned on having a career too, you know.  And I would really enjoy having my own money and not having my husband be my payee because I’m not considered responsible.  I don’t think its fair that my brain doesn’t work like everyone elses and only goes warp speed or not at all.  And I really don’t think its fair that my life is almost completely controlled by meds (that are eating my stomach and killing my brain): too much of this and I’m like a 6-year-old with a sugar rush and too little of that and I’m a two-toed sloth.  I can’t make decisions about anything, I’m overwhelmed by everything, and I have almost no control over my own life.  So I am tired of all the “she gets money for free” and “she doesn’t work because she’s lazy” and “when are you going back to work?” shit.   Talk to me about it’s not fair when you want to trade brains.  Otherwise, shut up about it already.