Friday, February 26, 2010

Sometimes Mental Illness Really Just Bites

So I've been rapid-cycling here lately, ranging from near-suicidally depressed to so manic I can't sleep for--fuck, I don't know, over a day and a half, anyway.

Most of my posts about mental illness so far have been about the stigma, but right now I feel the need to address my illness itself.

I have schizoaffective disorder (bipolar subtype, and apparently rapid-cycling now), which means that without medications I hallucinate and become delusional (usually paranoid), and that my moods are all over the gorram map. Even with medications my moods are all over the map, as I am taking my meds as prescribed and STILL rapid-cycling.

I'm sincerely hoping I don't have to be inpatient again, because it's a pain in the ass. You have to eat and sleep (and smoke--shame on me) on someone else's schedule, which bugs the crap out of me. I don't mind keeping a schedule, but let me set it and let me be in charge of it as if I were an intelligent adult, which, despite my illness, I like to think I am.

I've let myself get off my schedule at home because I got sick with what transpired to be the allergy attack from hell, and maybe that's why everything went all pear-shaped on me here lately.

But earlier this week, I was struggling with the desire to harm myself, feeling that I was worthless and useless and deserved to be punished. Earlier today in a burst of weird optimism, I was job-hunting, knowing full well that I can't work.

This bouncing back and forth all over the emotional continuum is tiring. I'm so tired right now I can hardly see straight. The only part of me that's not tired is my brain which simply will not SHUT UP and let me sleep.

This is what I live with. This is my life right now, and I know I'm not the only one who lives with mood swings, sleeplessness, depression, self-injury urges, suicidal thoughts, etc. People who live with mental illness(es) have to put up with a form of hell no one but the cruelest would wish upon zir worst enemy.

And then, on top of all that, there's the stigma. The labels. The way people treat you like you're stupid, or too fragile to handle [insert whatever here], or like you might snap at any moment and start hurting people. The friends who don't know what to say or do when you finally get the guts up to tell them about your illness. The family who think you might hurt them, when you know damn good and well that you'd never do such a thing.

The illness is enough to fight sometimes, but I feel called to fight the stigma too. I feel like I have to be open about my illness and be articulate enough to show the world that crazy does not equal stupid, or violent, or any of the other nine zillion things that the general public seems to think apply to people with mental illness(es).

Right now, all I can fight is the illness. But I'll promise you this. I'll be back when I can, to fight the stigma too. I have to. To paraphrase from Maud (a commenter at Shakesville), if I don't speak up, I may not change anyone, but if I let the world silence me, I've let the world change me. I'm willing to change, but I'm not willing to be silenced. I have a voice. I have been privileged enough to receive a liberal arts education and typing skills and internet access to create this little corner of the 'Web, and I am damn sure going to use it.