Sunday, May 2, 2010

mental health week

It’s mental health week, and i was reading a friend’s post about some of the stuff they deal with, and some schmo came on and talked to them like they were fucked up for sharing. So i wanted to take a lesson from my friend and share, keep it going, and not allow some folks’ unwillingness to even just be in the presence of someone's words about it to get in the way...

So, i live with occasional bouts of pretty low grade depression, have done for most of my life, more so since a physically and emotionally traumatic car accident as a teen; have PTSD from that accident and another i hadn’t healed from two years previous, as well as from abuse and assault (i’m not going to talk about the latter here at all, just fyi); have lived with ADHD for most of my life; received a brain injury in 1997 (sounds like i got something cool! yeah, no lol), and am an alcoholic in recovery since August 2002. While my counselor has diagnosed me with low grade depression and ADD (which is another, money-related rant! grrr to financially inaccessible ADD testing!), i’ve never had the Big Formal Diagnosistm due to that aforementioned non-financial-accessibility (most folks who live with it are actually never Formally Diagnosedtm) and though i was on Amitriptyline as a kid (i didn’t learn til later that it was also a fairly hefty anti-depressant) don’t take meds for either.

It’s often hard for me to distinguish between what’s related to body pain and what’s something else. And let me tell you, as someone who really enjoys collating, sorting and analyzing, that really pisses me off! i mean, honestly, i don’t know what difference it’d make, but still! i tried many years ago to talk to my GP about the low grade depression, but her response was less than helpful/supportive, and i never did anything else about it. i’ve been in (free!) counseling since about 1997, and that shit has literally saved my life. So has getting sober, as has finding a med combination for physical pain that actually helps and doesn’t make me want to scratch my eyes out (though am now at the top end of the dosing, so am unsure what i'm going to do if these ones wear off).

i have a really amazing community of friends and loves, but even with that i often wonder why i’m so loathe to talk about it. Much as i’ve worked on feelings of shame and embarrassment around my shit, it’s still there, skulking around.

My Mum was seriously injured in the same crash as me and, as soon as i could, i was busy being Florence Nightingale martyr for her, since my sister was such an asshat and busy having sex, stealing shit (including more pairs of striped spandex pants), and beating people up, including me, and hard as he tried to be supportive my Da just didn’t understand any of it, least of all the psychological trauma. So anyways, i had a “don’t ask for help” mentality drilled into me early (raised with both catholic guilt AND a protestant “work ethic”, while getting none of the benefits of either, ugh, that shit is tired!). i didn’t learn how to ask for the help i needed. But i did learn to stuff it real good because it was shameful and embarrassing and just. not. done. Learned that long before then, but the car accidents added this whole other layer i wasn’t prepared for.

And i’ve worked to get over that shit for a long time.

There are times when i’m afraid of folks seeing my life as it is occasionally when i’m home, alone. It feels embarrassing sometimes, but there it is. The combination of low grade depression, PTSD, ADHD and head injury all collide sometimes and i can lose hours at a time; sometimes i come home and cry til i sleep because everything feels so overwhelming and then it passes as quickly as it came; sometimes i just feel "off"; sometimes i wonder if it’s genetic, if it’ll get worse as i age, or if i’ll be able to drift past it somehow. Sometimes i do feel very alone, and worried about my future. i do my thing and generally? i’m a pretty happy jolly bear. i don’t self injure anymore --haven’t for a very long time (which isn’t any judgement on what anyone else needs to do to be ok, but it’s definitely good for me), and i don’t drink anymore, which makes a huge difference for me. i do fret about what my future holds as a disabled person, for sure. i don’t have a job, don’t have much income or hope for one, and i worry about my life, it scares me sometimes, yeah, and the head stuff doesn’t help.

And that’s what it’s like with support. i know so many folks who deal with a wide range of mental health issues, whether or not combined with other stuff, and it’s rare for so many to talk about it, and rare to have a support network. i’m grateful when folks talk about the stuff they have going on. It makes a difference. It makes it possible for others to talk about it, opens a space for that. And sometimes that can make all the difference.


Chubby Temptress said...

I love you for sharing. Thanks.

dean said...

i resonate so much with what you said. sometimes it's totally exhausting trying to figure out where things are coming from, particularly when your baseline is closer to depression than not depression: is it the chronic pain that radiates throughout my left side (that shit is exhausting and invisible to boot. invisibility sucks)... the fact that i've dealt with white folks almost every day of my life (again - exhausting)... the fact that there's an oil leak that is going to destroy the ecosystem of the gulf coast (plain depressing and scary)... having a gender that doesn't have english descriptors... a sexuality that directly challenges cultural norms of most of the cultures i identify with... a belief in "other worlds" that would most definitely label me as crazy if i let my spirituality out in full force (i've had to stop myself in public meetings when i feel like my "crazy" is showing)... a legacy of inhumane treatment that is still killing black folks.

oh, so much to sort through and figure out why i might be down today. recently i'm choosing to party and celebrate as much as i can. it's like all the things that i mentioned are total blessings and curses. without them i don't think i'd be as brilliant as i am. and with them sometimes every day is a challenge. so for me celebrating helps. cuz i've sort of already lived the alternative and it wasn't very fun at all.

i know my response is a bit off your topic, but i wanted to share the things that your words sparked for me. lately i've been writing more and more about stuff that i find hard to share, but your words remind me that there are people that need to hear what i have to say!

big hugs to you! big gay faggotry dude bro giggly girly hugs to you!

romham a bear said...

thanks, Chubby! you share, i share, you share, i share :)

romham a bear said...

dean! thank you for your comment here. it's not off-topic at all, and im so glad you said it.

it can be so. exhausting. i hear you on some of that for sure. it amazes me that people can wade through / keep wading through all the things they deal with. and can at least let pieces (or the whole!) of who they are out somewhere, sometimes, with some people. and can celebrate. youre so right: blessings/curses.

greedily accepting those big gay faggotry dude bro giggly girly hugs.