Aside

Stigma

I have no problem blogging about my mental illness. I have no problem tweeting about my mental illness. But I can’t talk about it on Facebook. And talking to people in person about it is leading to less than awesome results.

Why is it that I feel so accepted by complete strangers all over the continent, and feel so judged by family members and friends? Obviously if you’re reading this, you are not one of them. There are people I have told about the blog who don’t want to read it and those are some of the people I feel most judged by.

Dealing with a mental illness is hard. It’s awful. On top of the shittiness of the illness itself you get this:

First I told myself that I was wrong. I didn’t even tell anyone else that I thought I might have a problem.

“I can’t be depressed, everyone gets sad.”

“Maybe if I just ignore it, it’ll go away.”

“But I don’t need medication.”

“I’m not as bad as that person.”

Once I accepted it as a mental illness (which is a very big step by the way, and really helped me feel better) I had people telling me that I was wrong.

“Just stop worrying.”

“But you’re so happy all the time.”

“It’s just a phase.”

“Just will yourself to be happy.”

I have a hard time because I’m a naturally talkative, sharing person. I hate keeping secrets. I don’t want to be ashamed to be who I am. I want my close friends and family to know what’s going on in my life, but this is sharing that is not going over well.

I get that people want me to be happy. I get that my friends want to help. I get that many of them haven’t had the support that they required when they went through similar things. Maybe they thing I don’t need help because they think that they themselves don’t need/deserve help. I don’t know. I’m getting help right now so that things don’t get worse. That’s what happens when you ignore your problems, they get worse.

I want everyone’s reaction to be, “Oh Emily, I’m so glad you’re getting help. It must be so good to feel like you’re getting somewhere and putting a name to your feelings. Let me know how I can support you.” That would be really nice.

Next week I start a 12-18 month program working with a psychologist, a counsellor and my family doctor. I’m so excited that I’ll be getting some long-term help and maybe make some real progress on this depression/anxiety, so that every time it comes up I don’t have to go to a different counsellor. I’m also very, very thankful that this is a program that my work pays for, and I don’t even need to use money from my benefits.

I won’t be telling a lot of people about it, but I’ll be blogging about it. And probably tweeting about it.

Lent

This year I decided I should give something up for lent. I’ll be going to church every Sunday, and I enjoyed the Easter season last year and wanted to be more involved this year. I wish I could give up something really big, like sugar, or social media, or negative self-talk, but I know I don’t have the power to do that. One day I will, but not right now.

I’m giving up buying food at work. I always buy sugary snacks in the middle of the afternoon when the boredom gets overwhelming and I want to stuff my face with a donut. I always think that a donut or chocolate bar or Starbucks will cheer me up. It’s an awful habit. It’s a good one to get rid of. I’m not getting rid of all sugar in my diet, because sometimes I need a cookie. But I have very few sweets at home, and I find it easy not to buy them at the grocery store.

I’m hoping that I’ll be able to confront these feelings in the middle of the afternoon and get over it. Confront my desire to eat crappy food and eat that apple if I’m really that hungry. I also hope it’ll help me think about sacrifice, and denying myself certain things in order to live a better life.

Depression Anxiety Super Combo

I’ve not been doing well lately. Wedding planning is in full swing. It’s going well, but takes a lot of my energy. Home renos are really slow and I don’t feel like I have any control. I also don’t have energy to do them. My house is a dusty, freezing disaster. Work was rough, but is improving. The weather is awful and really not helping. There’s a lot going on and I can’t handle it all.

I talked to my doctor about medication, and he said that I should do counselling first and see how that went. I agreed. Medications have too many side effects and I feel that while I’m bad enough now that I think it would help, all my problems are situational and you can’t keep going on and off medications all the time. So I had my first session with my new short-term phone counselor last Friday. I think I should have a long-term in-person counselor because these guys are only meant to help you with one problem, and then you’re “fixed.” And that’s not me. I wants someone who knows my problems who I can see once a week or once a month as I need them, and they know all about me and they know my back story.

So this counselor was lovely, and gave me some homework. An anxiety inventory tool and a depression inventory tool. I thought, “Ok I’ll be pretty high on the anxiety chart, but I don’t think I’m depressed. I’ll do it just because she wants me to.” Turns out I scored on the high end of the depression scale. Lots of symptoms I thought were anxiety, are actually depression. Things like inferiority, guilt, and indecisiveness are symptoms of depression. For the anxiety I was “severely anxious.” No surprise there.

Now I’m stuck thinking about how to manage this. I’m *this* close to tears at any given moment. I’m no closer to actually getting anything done. I don’t want to leave my bed in the morning. I have zero emotional energy left for anyone else. It’s awful to be sending emails and not be able to think about how anything will sound to other people. Especially since I’m doing all this wedding stuff. 

It’s awful and I don’t want it to get worse, but I feel like I’m going to have to wait this one out. I’m thankful that I still feel pretty rational, even if I have no emotional energy to be nice.

Through all of this, Jeremy is so supportive. He gives me hugs and cuddles and tells me I’m a good person. He doesn’t tell me to just cheer up, or get over it. If things were’t as good with him, I’d be on medication immediately. At least I know this wedding is a good idea 🙂