Let’s Talk

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EH9meoWmAOM?rel=0]

 
Are you lost or incomplete?
Do you feel like a puzzle, you can’t find your missing piece?
Tell me, how do you feel?
Well I feel like they’re talking in a language I don’t speak
And they’re talking it to me
You’ll tell anyone who’ll listen, but you feel ignored
Nothing’s really making any sense at all
Let’s talk, let’s ta-a-alk
Let’s talk, let’s ta-a-alk

 

~ Lyrics from “Talk” by Coldplay

Lately I’ve been hearing from people who’ve been reading my blog. I’m so honored to learn their stories. I read each of these emails, comments, and texts with a deep respect for the story they’re sharing with me. They’re trusting me with their pain, their struggles, their fears.

 

And I can totally relate because I’ve walked in their shoes.

 

It’s a scary thing to have to deal with mental illness. It can rock you to the core. Make you question your future. Turn your world upside down. Turn your family upside down. Your friends may even shy away from trying to help. Not because they don’t care about your well-being, but because they don’t know how to help. They are clueless as to where to start, even though they want desperately to have their old friend back. They feel helpless.

 

The same emotion the person who was handed the mental illness card feels: helplessness.

 

When a chemical imbalance occurs in someone’s brain, of course the first thing a person feels is helpless. A band-aid won’t fix this. It’s not something visible from the outside that a regular doctor can address. The brain is mis-firing. Something is deficient within the cells and synapses and it will likely take some time, effort, therapy, and a good doctor to figure out how to get things back to the baseline.

WHY ME???

Is inevitably the question that screams out from within. This isn’t fair. What did I do to deserve this plight? It’s not fair.

 

Friend, I’ve been there. I’ve been through the pain and fear that comes along with hearing you’ve been diagnosed with a mental illness. I’ve trudged through the thick, seemingly never ending mud pit of despair that is clinical depression. And I’ve felt the prickly, rushing waves of anxiety roll over me countless times, rendering me into an immobile heap, unable to decide what to do next to squash the distress. My mind has lost touch with reality when mania caught hold of my brain with her fiery grip, only to be brought back down through injections of antipsychotics in a psych ward. I even wrestled with several bouts of suicidal thoughts, when I hit rock bottom.

 

That, my friend, is what it took. The lowest low you could ever imagine. Weeks of wanting to just curl up and sleep forever. I’d pray that I wouldn’t wake up. But each morning, the world kept turning and the cycle would start again. I’d loathe the chore of taking a shower and picking out clothes for the day ahead of me. I’d put myself on autopilot in order to get through my morning routine. If I thought too much about it, I’d crawl back into bed, my safe cocoon. Episodes of anxiety at work would cause me such stress I could barely eat. I internalized so much, keeping my hurt bottled up inside because I was afraid of what people would think if I told the truth. Countless nights of red eyes from tears that had flowed so hard, there was nothing left. My body ached with the weight of it all. It had become too much to bear.

That’s when I realized: I can’t do this anymore.

I was sick of feeling the way I was feeling. I made a conscious decision to listen to what my doctors had been telling me. I chose to try a new medication and I committed to a treatment plan. And do you know what?

It worked for me.

It took several months of seeing my doctor consistently, taking my meds religiously, and following up with feedback for my doctor so that we could tweak the dosages. Sure, there were plenty of unpleasant side effects. I’ll spare you the details. The important thing is that I got back to well. I got my life back. Definitely not the same one; my life is completely different now than when I was first diagnosed. But in my opinion, this life I’m living now is ten million times better.

 

Because of what I’ve experienced, I now get to help people realize that they can get well too.

 

I realize it’s not always that easy. Sometimes there are so many other factors involved. It’s not my place to give out medical advice to my readers. Ethically, I don’t think it’s right. But there is something I will always share with anyone who reaches out to me: hope. I believe everyone is capable of overcoming a mental illness. We can do this by learning to live with it, accepting it for what it is instead of letting it beat us down. And we can help each other by talking about it.

 

We can do this. We’re much stronger together than we are solo, wouldn’t you agree?

If you or someone you love is struggling with mental health issues, please don’t hesitate to reach out to someone you trust. Whether that person is a blogger you only know from reading online, or someone much closer to you. Just talk. It’s the first step to getting back to well.


Let’s talk.

Comments

  1. Hi Jennifer – This is a wonderful article! I love what you said ” I was sick of feeling the way I was feeling. I made a conscious decision to listen to what my doctors had been telling me. I chose to try a new medication and I committed to a treatment plan.” Great insights to share! Love Kathy

    • Thank you so much, Kathy! That is what it came down to: I was done. But luckily still had enough energy to devote to my treatment plan because it gave me my life back and for that I am so thankful.

  2. Cristi @ Motherhood Unadorned says:

    We are so much stronger together! I love love this and am sharing. xo

  3. Love this! you are so right and its exactly what I went through until I finally talked

  4. Linda Killi says:

    Jenn, This is one of your best posts.  I know it will help others who read it too.   I love you, Mom

    ________________________________

  5. Rebecca J. says:

    I love the courage behind this Blog!! WHY NOT ME? That is the more productive question to ask myself. As a Bipolar Type II/PTSD with Dissociative Disorder (diagnosed 2006) on the mend, I have spent lots of time on my pity pot asking WHY ME? and I just became ever more manically depressed. And dissociative. When I re-framed my illnesses and began looking at them as my particular challenges for this lifetime, I could begin to see that everyone carries some sort of burden – mine was just not readily visible. Who am I to decide what lessons I need to learn, who I was put on this planet to help, and what my real purpose is? “Why not me?” gives me a quest, a serious (very) motivation for self knowledge, and a tailor-made sisterhood (other Moms living with mental illness). “Why not me?” leads to why not you – or you – and suddenly it is WE. And WE can do anything – including thrive in spite of – and because of our peculiar gift.

  6. Beautiful post, Jenn. Your writing is really amazing. I can feel the passion behind every word.

  7. I fully understand what you are going through. I have shared my experience with what I had to deal with my son and his being Bipolar. It is tough to deal with this illness all the way around. Never give up fighting and working through this illness.

    • Thank you so much. I won’t give up. It’s my forever fight to stay well.

      • Yes it is. One thing that I stressed to my son often this is a disorder that is always something he will have to work at. The meds are not a cure all but it helps you to manage life more closer to the middle. Good luck with your fight everyday. Don’t let it get you down.

  8. I always love your writing and when I read what you wrote about hitting rock bottom, that hit me hard. It was exactly how it happened for me too and was the beginning of a journey of healing. So glad you are doing so great and never stop fighting! And you are so right, we are much stronger together than we are solo :)

  9. Beautiful.

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Trackbacks

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