In the past few weeks, I have been going through some pretty intense therapy in an effort to better understand my condition and, along with my trusty psych meds, regain my will to live and to be happy again. In this environment, I am not crazy or weak. I am simply a human being who has a disorder/illness/chemical imbalance. I have not asked for this condition; it’s not a choice or a switch I can turn on and off. I do not consciously will myself to sink into a depression that strips away my will to live, my ability to feel joy, to love myself or to function on the most basic level. Yet, there are people who are unable/unwilling to educate themselves about bipolar disorder, depression or any other mental health diagnosis. These are the people who tell me, “It must be nice to have time off work. I wish I could have a week or two off work.” To which I want to say, “It must be nice to not be burdened by the weight of an intelligent thought.” Seriously. These are the same people who have told me that it’s all in my head. Well, actually it is. That’s where my brain is and inside the brain is where the chemical serotonin is store. If there is an imbalance, my mood will manifest that. In that regard, it is all in my head.
I feel as though the one place I need support and understanding the most is the one place I get it the least – work. I want to photocopy pages from the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Illness) relating to bipolar disorder and put them on their desks, in an effort to educate them on what that is. I’m fairly certain it doesn’t mention the word crazy once.
At any rate, those who do understand, who have taken the time to educate themselves or just support me in general, have given a positive balance to the negative. Should things at work not change, I will have to recognize that the situation is out of my control. I will have to find what is within my control (my expectations, my ways of coping and if I choose to stay or find employment elsewhere) and then take action.
Sometimes I think that the worst part of having bipolar disorder is dealing with the stigma associated with mental illness and the uninformed/ignorant people who keep that stigma alive and well. This type of person is similar to the ones who fought against segregation, against same-sex marriage and who basically want the human race to be as ass-backwards and ignorant as they are.
Someday, I hope that mental illness will be recognized as what it is, an illness. Not a choice, a bid for attention or a scheme to get time off work, anymore than having cancer and undergoing chemotherapy is a way to get some time off work. It would be incredibly stupid for someone to say to a cancer patient, “It must be nice to have all that time off work” so why is it acceptable to say it to someone suffering from depression or having suicidal thoughts? Quite simply, it’s not.
Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to read my blog. I appreciate the kind words, thoughts and prayers that you all have given/said/thought. I can sometimes feel the warmth of those thoughts and prayers and it helps. It really does.