I’m outside right now, I don’t really care that it’s about to pour, and that it just finished pouring. I’m warm in my sweatpants and Falcon Ridge sweatshirt. I love the nighttime, I’ve also been spending as much time breathing real air since my release from the psych ward. I’m back at partial, which is much more helpful than being locked up, not that I had a choice, well I did, in fact they handled me pretty well. “I think you know what needs to happen, I think I know what needs to happen, you need to make the choice on your own.” So pretty smart, not all mental health professionals are like the ones I’ve experienced at the facility I’ve been going to. They take the time to explain things in detail, they treat us like humans, they care. It’s refreshing.
I’ve never really told the story of when I was committed to a horrible ward, I don’t like to talk about it, in some cases it stopped me from seeking help later on in my life. I will say that we have to do better with treatment, I’ve heard so many horror stories about dehumanizing treatment, ignoring emergencies, and straight up abuse, mostly emotional. We need to truly destroy the stigma, let’s stop with the bullshit green signs all over the place and start talking about this shit like it’s a real disease. Let people become educated because our education system tends to gloss over the messier illnesses, they cover depression, but they don’t inform students of the other things that could also happen. If we can’t learn what to look for how do we know when to ask for help?
I know someone who is about 70, and he was only diagnosed with depression 15 years ago, he went his whole life suffering because of stigma, and now as he says, I’m at the end of my life, but I can still improve myself. We’re a resilient bunch, those of us who have to fight this garbage every day of our lives. No one brings you flowers when you’re in the psych ward (not that they’d be allowed), no one brings you soup. So many times we suffer on our own for a very long time, we don’t tell people, we think we’re weak, many of us have attachment and abandonment issues because people leave when you’re this type of sick.
In no way am I trying for sympathy, just understanding, just a willingness to learn a little about your friend’s illnesses because they’d appreciate it if you learned terminology and warning signs. We can’t always scream for help in the way that it’s usually needed to get real help, and sometimes we scream, but it’s already too late.
I apologize for my bluntness, at least some of it, but sometimes harsh realities are the only way to really get through to people. I’d be dead at least twice if it weren’t for intervention from mental health professionals, even if you don’t believe in psychology or psychiatry (I know quite a few), isn’t anything that saves a human life worth it? I can relate this to anything, politics, LGBT issues, social justice, anything. Anything that saves a human life is worth it. Even if my brain chemistry changes a little, It’s worth it.
The illness I have has a 10% suicide rate, four times the national average with 46%-92% attempt rate ( https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/) statistics are staggering and also there are huge discrepancies, which means it’s not studied enough, it’s not talked about enough, and there is not enough information to really help people. I’ve had bad psychiatrists, I’ve had great psychiatrists, I’ve had bad therapists, I’ve had excellent therapists, but one consistent thing that is always discussed is stigma. Who do I disclose to? if I disclose at work does that mean they will find an arbitrary reason to let me go? What friends will run? How long will it take to find the right kind of treatment to prevent further pain because of my increasingly small circle?
I’ve been reflecting a lot the last few days, I am stable and it’s very strange to me. I don’t remember feeling this even in eight or nine years. I’ve made huge strides in the last month, with setbacks, scary words, and intense feelings, but I’m moving in the right direction. I’ve never spent this much time on my mental health, I’ve been hospitalized before but I’ve never done the partial hospitalization program which is a lot more time and a lot more work (plus I can walk at lunch time which is really amazing. Have I mentioned that not being allowed outside really sucks? It really sucks. Even though I’m certain depression has made me stay inside longer than I was inside this time. It’s different when you have no choice but to stay.
Anyway, I’m processing, I’m feeling good, I’m hoping for eventual relief from wishing people understood, I know many wont. I know I’ll spend the rest of my life explaining what it feels like, to the people who I choose to disclose to. It’s just like coming out. You have to do it over and over again because the default is straight, you have to talk about it over and over again because the default is neurotypical people.
Learn about your friend’s illnesses, be careful what the internet says, because it says some pretty terrible things. Read about it from reputable sources (like everything these days). Read scholarly articles. Your friends will thank you for making the effort. Check in on them, most of us can’t or wont be able to ask for help, and if you know they have issues asking if they want to go for a walk or inviting them over can be the difference between never leaving the house and starting their bodies in motion.
This was a long post, but I feel it’s incredibly important to encourage people without mental illness to learn about it, there’s a lot of us out there, but we all feel a little alone and a lot scared much of the time.
Love each other, look out for each other.