The truth about having a mental illness is this: It is hard and it is draining. There are so many things that are going on in your head and so many things you are trying to work on. It is exhausting. Sometimes you see progress and hope, sometimes you don’t.
It Is Hard
I feel like this is a bit of an understatement. You know that there is something wrong with you and you must fight like hell to get better. Constant doctors’ appointments. Endless therapy sessions. Staying compliant with your medications. Keeping lines of communication open with loved ones. This seems doable, but for someone with a mental illness, this is exhausting.
I have Bipolar 2, Complex PTSD, Panic disorder, and OCD. Depending on how I am doing, I see my therapist weekly and my psychiatrist around every 3 weeks. I have struggled with my mental health my whole life, but within the past 5 and a half years or so, it has really amped up.
It Is Confusing
The trauma started very young for me. When the depression hit, I did not know how to handle it and I had no idea what was happening to me. I was scared. Hurt. Confused. I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder and Major Anxiety Disorder when I was 10 or 11 and had no idea what this really meant, and it was not really explained to me. I just knew there was something wrong with me and I was discouraged from talking about it.
Even now that I have a better understanding of my mental illnesses, I am still confused at times. This past year or so has been a struggle for me. Things that once worked or were supposed to work to help with my symptoms just don’t. Ways to keep myself grounded seem to change constantly. My symptoms change frequently. Sometimes it is hard to gauge what is going on with me. The truth about having a mental illness is that it can be very confusing.
It Is Draining
You know that feeling after a very long and rough workout. Your whole body feels like jello and you are exhausted. The next day everything is sore, and it hurts to move. This is what it feels like having a mental illness. Not everyday feels like this, but for me it happens a lot. After therapy sometimes, it feels like that rough workout. It works your mind and makes you physically and mentally exhausted.
I have gone days and weeks of feeling like this… because the work doesn’t end after therapy. When there is a list of things that you are trying to work on and get better at, that work is hard. This work is rewarding and worth every minute. The truth about have a mental illness is that it is draining, but worth the hard work.
Having a mental illness takes work to get better.
If you don’t have a job, you don’t have money coming in and if you don’t exercise, you will not lose weight or stay fit. If you don’t put in the work to overcome your mental illnesses, it will never get better. The truth about have a mental illness is it is not just work; it is strenuous and hard work. But rewarding.
When the symptoms started to show, I told myself and everyone else that I was fine. I could handle it and do it myself. I didn’t need therapy or need to see a psychiatrist. It was fine. It took me years to realize I needed help and I wasn’t supposed to do things alone. After I had my daughter, I realized I needed to kick ass to get better for myself and for my family. Once I started fighting as hard as I could, I started seeing results. Not as fast as I wanted (I am harder on myself than necessary), but a lot of good results.
Having a mental illness is not a death sentence.
I went through a period that I started getting new diagnosis after diagnosis. Every time I thought to myself “Oh great, one more thing I have to fight to get through.” I felt like each one was the worst thing ever. I was a little bit dramatic. No matter the diagnosis, this was something that I was already dealing with. It now just had a name. It should have really been a sigh of relief because now it had a name. I realized that I am not alone.
The truth about having a mental illness is that it is hard, but it is not a death sentence. There are things that you may deal with for the rest of your life. I may have Bipolar 2 my whole life…but there are medications to help me be stable. I may have symptoms of PTSD my whole life…but they will eventually be more manageable and not affect me as bad as they do currently. Things get better over time. It just takes work.
There is hope if you have a mental illness.
Yes, having a mental illness is hard, draining, confusing and it takes a lot of work. But the truth is about having a mental illness is that there is hope. I struggled (sometimes still do) with believing that things are ever going to get better. Sometimes it feels like a pit of despair. However, I am seeing results as I work hard to get there. I am seeing my relationships transform and get stronger, and I see how I am changing as a wife and a mother in a positive way. I am starting to feel healthier and feel better.
There is hope. Even when it doesn’t always feel like it.