If I’m being completely honest with myself, I almost wanted to skip today. It’d just be another thing I’ve given up on. If you can’t tell, I’m on a downward swing as of late. The meds are helping to keep it from getting too bad, but I’m still cycling from up to down. Right now I’m down and questioning every single thing I’ve ever done/am doing. It sucks. Bad. It’ll pass soon though. Maybe. I’m not entirely sure.
Have you ever been so exhausted you couldn’t think straight? That’s me right now. I’m even finding it hard to write this right now. That’s just something I have to deal with. Why, you ask? Well, it’s a side effect of my medication. In order to keep my mental health in order, I have to make some sacrifices. Having a surplus of energy is one of them.
I’ve been thinking long and hard for a long while now about my place in protests and social justice as a whole. Once upon a time I was way more active on that front than I am now. I was extremely vocal on social media (I’ve been called an “evil SJW” more times than I care to remember) and I participated in anti-war protests and marches back during my freshman year in college.
Now, I’m not saying I was perfect at all. Even I had an “asshole internet atheist” phase that was not pretty at all. What I’m saying is I was “out there”. I was out front, fighting the good fight, doing battle with assholes as much as humanly possible. What I didn’t pinpoint at the time was the extreme toll it was taking on me physically and mentally. It’s very draining.
What some scant few people out there may not know is I have a laundry list of things that are wrong with me. Back in the day, I didn’t know this. I’ve lived with these things, undiagnosed and unrecognized, for years. I bought into the guilt trip that if you weren’t on the “front lines” you weren’t doing your part. So I pushed myself to do things that I wasn’t totally comfortable with, that drained me, that triggered my anxiety, and that worsened my depression.
… and I probably never will be.
And that’s okay.
One of the things that I’m still coming to terms with is my mental illness being chronic. I’ve talked about how medication helps it go from a boulder to a pebble, but it’s hard coming to grips with the fact that I can’t throw that pebble away. How do I know this? I’ve tried to throw it away before.
You never know what’s going on in someone’s head.
You don’t know what someone truly feels.
You don’t know what they think about their life.
All you see is what’s happening from the outside and whatever they choose to show you. Many people with depression and suicidal ideation are very, very good at pretending like they’re ok. They’re good at putting on the happy face for family, friends, and the general public.
The thing is, when bad things happen they can send people into a tailspin. For some people, that means a particularly bad bout of depression. For others, it can mean suicide or attempted suicide.
Family, friends, and the general public may think it came out of nowhere but in reality it had been brewing for a while. This is why I get really uncomfortable when people say things like “they had so much to live for” and “they were so happy.”
The truth is, you don’t know. You can only guess and sometimes your guess can be very wrong.
I really don’t think people understand the exhaustion that comes with a mental illness like depression. It isn’t just an “I’m tired and want to go to sleep” thing, it’s a “I don’t know if I can get out of bed” thing. It’s an “I can barely put on clothing today” thing.
Dragging myself out of bed every morning is becoming harder and harder and that’s with depression medication. Every single day I have to parcel out what I need to do based on how much energy I have that day. If I go over my limit, an exhaustion so deep sets itself into my bones and it becomes hard to move.
My mother and I had a very interesting conversation last night. It all started when I told her about something my academic counselor told me. He informed that, if i needed it, he could get me in touch with the disability resource center. This shouldn’t have been a revelation, but it was.
I began to think about myself as being disabled. For some reason it never clicked with me that I might be disabled due to my multiple mental illnesses. I know it’s wrong, but when I think of disability I think of people like my mother and ex-husband who have physical issues that prevent them from walking and doing other things. My mental illnesses never seemed that serious to me.
I know objectively that I’m wrong as all hell. Right now I’m under the care of three medical professionals, I go to therapy every two weeks, and I’m on three different medications.Without all of that, I’m a mess. I’m able to care for my children, but everything else gets neglected.
With my medication, I feel like a person again. My symptoms are still there and I believe they always will be. The thing is, they’re not as severe as they were without the medication and therapy. That kind of scares me. I’ve reached that point where I feel relatively “normal” so it’s easy for me to trick myself into thinking that I don’t need any of it anymore.
That’s where the conversation with my mother comes in. I told her all of this and she looked at me funny. She reminded me that of course mental illness counts as a disability because it hinders you just as much as arthritis or any other physical ailment. She even told me that even though I am “better” in some respects, I still have moments where things outside of the bare necessities get neglected.
In her admittedly unprofessional opinion, I am a disabled person just like her. It’s not a bad thing or a good thing, just something I recently really realized. I’m always finding out new things about myself and this is one of them.