Life with a Mental Illness

7 Jun

Most people would look at me and see your typical happy go lucky girl; a bit tortured, but all around positive.  Most see me as pretty simple, living a simple and easy life.  But there is so much that the majority of people don’t know.

This is the face of somebody with a mental illness.

I have suffered from anxiety and depression the majority of my life.  The depression comes and goes, but the anxiety never leaves.  I can’t go a day without a panic attack.  I can’t function as a normal person because of the anxiety.  It eats me up.  It makes life a living hell.

I cannot drive a vehicle because I am absolutely terrified.  It is not like a fear of needles where it simply sucks and you pass out.  It is the type of fear that causes hours-long panic attacks.  If I hear a noise as I am getting ready for bed that sounds even the slightest bit off, I find myself unable to sleep for the night.  I have panic attacks if I have to approach people and ask them for something.  When it comes to things like unpacking after my recent move, I can’t do it.  I look at it all and I start to panic and I shut down.

The list goes on and on.  I could give hundreds of situations that cause my panic attacks.  I could list hundreds of ways that my anxiety has screwed up my life.

These days my anxiety has gotten to its highest point ever.  I am a wreck.  I spend hours per day crying.  I take numerous showers per day.  (One of the symptoms of my anxiety is a feeling that my skin is crawling.  I constantly feel as if I have something-bugs or something-crawling all over me.  And I itch.  Everywhere.  The only way I can feel better is by showering and scrubbing til my skin is on fire.)  I am in a new apartment filled with boxes that need to be unpacked but am unable to do so because it causes panic attacks.

It is hard to admit these things here.  But I need to do it.  Because this is one of the only places that I can.  My friends may be able to listen to me talk about it, but there is nothing that they can do.  My anxiety is beyond the point of being able to be controlled by positive thinking.  And yet getting help for it is nearly impossible.

That is one of the huge problems with our mental health care system.  To get in to see a psychiatrist that can prescribe me something to help someone like me simply live life as a more normal person takes months.  And if you are without health insurance like I am, it takes even longer and costs more than is affordable (if you can find a doctor that will see you at all).  I am at the point where I am desperate for help, and yet I cannot go into a hospital because they will send me away since I am not suicidal.  A huge stresser in my life is my financial situation (extremely tight) and therefore I do not have the hundreds of dollars needed to go to appointment after appointment and try and get this straightened out.  And like I said, even finding somebody who will see me in a timely fashion due to my non-suicidal nature takes forever.

It is like so many things in this world-we aren’t given the ability to fix the problem until it is too late.  I am not going to kill myself.  I am smart enough to know not to do that and to know that it’s simply selfish.  But I am also smart enough to know that I am not okay.  I am smart enough to know that I should not have to live my life like this.

You know, I am a normal person.  I am a normal person with issues.  We all have issues.  The difference is that I am speaking out about them and most people don’t.  I admit that I need help to overcome these issues, but most people don’t.  And I don’t think that it is because nobody wants to.  I think it is because society makes things like these out to be bad.  Society makes people suffering from anxiety and depression out to be fuck-ups… degenerates… failures.  We tell people that they are not worthy of help until they are too weak to live.

People call these things mental illness, but I call it life.  We all need a little help sometimes, in one way or another.

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10 Responses to “Life with a Mental Illness”

  1. katrina kay June 8, 2010 at 1:11 am #

    aw, i hope you feel better soon :/ at least a little bit. maybe you should work on finding a job with health insurance? that could make things easier, maybe

  2. michelle June 8, 2010 at 8:23 am #

    some therapists will see you on a sliding fee schedule. it’s typically income based so, for example, instead of paying $150, you might pay $75. of course that doesn’t apply to prescription costs, but it’s better than nothing. just a thought; i hope today is a low stress day for you

  3. Steven Klassen June 8, 2010 at 9:00 pm #

    The suggestions above sound pretty good. Sorry to hear things are so tough for you. =(

  4. emilybking June 15, 2010 at 10:23 pm #

    This is heart-wrenching to read. Mainly because I know exactly how you feel. I know what it feels like to be totally trapped in the anxiety. You KNOW its irrational, but you can’t see it from the outside like other people do. I don’t know if it helps, but it might make you see light at the end of the tunnel to know that I have been there, but I have pretty much “beat it”. Anxiety will always be a part of my life but I can control it. My advice is to do whatever you can to find a therapist and medication (if they think you need it). I think that therapy and learning about anxiety and depression are the only ways to conquer it, but I needed the medication to pull myself out of the hole before I could even begin working on the issues. I honestly think that the thing that worked the best for me was books. I read book after book about depression and anxiety in order to understand how to change my thought process. Let me know if you want a list of some of the books I have read. Thanks for addressing these issues, even though so many people have these problems, few of them talk about it. Here’s a link to the post I wrote about it. (ps found you on 20sb and I’m following!)

    http://emilyslastword.blogspot.com/2010/05/zoloft-my-lovehate-affair.html

    • devilishdelish June 15, 2010 at 10:53 pm #

      Emily- Thank you for the comment. It is so nice to know that I am not alone. It just… it is so hard these days. I hate feeling like this. And like you said, I know it is irrational, and I still can’t get over it. I see it from the outside… that is the crazy thing. Unlike most, I see it all and I know it’s just in my head or whatever. But I can’t force the chemical imbalance to go away. I am in the process of finding a therapist and medication (I know that I need medication. At this point it isn’t an option, but a requirement.) And I would love a list of some of the books that helped you. Writing about this stuff is hard, but it is helpful to put it into words and put it out there. And so many people better understand me now after reading this, which is important.

  5. Vanessa June 22, 2010 at 2:21 am #

    You’re really not alone with this. I dont know if that helps, but maybe it will. I’ve struggled with depression for the past 5 years, and with that I mean that it was about 5 years ago that I admitted to myself that I needed help. There are few things that are worse than feeling completely isolated in a room full of people, or to not be able to do the smallest of tasks. I remember there was a time when I needed to mail a letter, and all it took was sticking it in the mailbox right? the same mailbox I drove past every single day. Yet for some reason the thought of actually picking the letter up from where it was and getting out of the car to drop it in the mail box was so utterly exhausting, it took me weeks to do it. I remember driving to college and getting all the way there, but then being unable to get out of my car and actually go to class. Even if I was parked right outside. Even though it wasnt the class itself that made me not want to go. It’s a very very difficult thing to go to, and I really feel for you.
    I also know what its like to not be able to afford the needed help. While I dont live in the US anymore, I live in a country other than the one that I’m from. At my last job I had excellent insurance which covered drs visits as well as all prescription meds. Now with my new employer, while I do have health insurance, it pretty much covers everything BUT psychiatric stuff. Unless its a “temporary” condition. But any pre-existing or chronic issues, oh no, they cant help with that. Might cost them too much to actually do that. So I’m in a similar situation to yours. I cant afford to go see the right drs to give me the prescriptions I need, and even if I could afford them, I could probably only afford half of the medication myself. Again, its hard.
    But I manage. Sometimes there is nothing else left to do but try to get through each day. Burying myself at work is also something I’ve done, though other days it gets to 10 a.m. and I already cant wait to get out of the office. But still, I manage. And everytime I think I cant do this anymore, not for another day, hour, minute or even second…I look back at that moment a few hours later and think “well I somehow managed after all”.
    anyways this is probably the longest comment ever and is more of an email than comment.

    I guess I just wanted you to know youre not alone. I know you dont know me, but if you ever want to talk to someone who knows what its like, you can email me anytime.

  6. Livi August 12, 2010 at 1:04 pm #

    Despite your obvious pain and struggle this post sounds like a very strong woman, a fighter, just trying to figure out where to go next. I hope you realise just how strong you are

  7. Emily August 12, 2010 at 9:19 pm #

    I recommend you check out The Work by Byron Katie. 🙂 It’s really helpful.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. So Alone « DevilishDelish - June 9, 2010

    […] June 9, 2010 Filed under: Who I Am — devilishdelish @ 10:49 pm I wrote the other day about my anxiety and depression.  I appreciate all of the kind words I have received in comments and emails from […]

  2. This life is a struggle, and I am ready to give up. « DevilishDelish - August 8, 2010

    […] you have been reading my blog for a more than a month or two, you know that I  struggle with severe clinical depression and anxiety. It got to the point a couple of months ago where it was bad enough that I checked myself into the […]

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