I feel very strongly about our mental health and the everlasting stigma about it, and all the assumptions that are made on our behalf – mostly with very little / no knowledge of the facts and hardly ever any real interaction whereby there is a concerted effort to understand “how it feels”!! Not just “the text book says”….or “the doctor says” or … “I also get depressed but I don’t…” or “I’ve never been depressed, so….”
And I am very much to account for this lack of transparency as well. I have kept my issues hidden, not admitted in any kind of form to having a mental ailment, played it down, pretended I was fine, etc. Most other people with mental issues probably recognise this behaviour all too well.
I am STILL (at the age of 53) pretending to be “normal” (whatever that is). I don’t talk about it, never mind write about it. But now I think I must. And have this discussion honestly and openly. Even when I am so embarrassed by past behaviours. I have been spurred on by my brave, courageous daughters who have managed to “take back power”. Not an easy task.
I have managed to move on quite a lot, in spite of the lack of talking and support. But it would have been quicker and more meaningful if I had been able, not just to talk about it, but to connect with others who had the same type of experience. (I have recently decided that support groups are amazing entities. I wish there were some close by)
So, I am so pleased that my daughters are strong enough to deal with things now, and that they can then have a full and emotionally healthy life.
And I still have not explained that I have Bipolar Disorder – only diagnosed 8 years ago, but had it from the age of about 16. I have experienced both out of this world dangerous manias and the deepest depths of the black holes (which we now have a photo of, ha ha), and self-harmed and had a number of suicide attempts. I have been hospitalised a couple of times and spent time in clinics. Recently I have had to apply to the benefits system here in the UK (as I am unable to work since my death experience in China), and there was an extensive form to be filled in for both physical and mental abilities. There is lots of talk of rejections and referrals to medical teams for assessment, but I simply was told that I had been deemed as “not fit for work”. So I need to figure this one out. Am I disabled? I don’t know. After working my whole life (lecturer) and bringing up two children,; I am now classed as unfit for work. Hmm….. this is going to take me time to digest.
(Update: just received another letter, I am still “disabled” and “unfit for work”)
I hope that I am still fit to be a mother….. (what a ghastly thought).