MENTAL ILLNESS IS A LONELY PLACE.
A few months ago, a family member got angry with me because of a breakdown in communication. I was really hurt by how they addressed me, but I apologized. In my mind, it’s always my fault.
Recently a friend became distant because of broken plans. I’m hurt because I wasn’t expecting that reaction. But again I apologized.
Communication is difficult when you can’t gather your thoughts or feelings. Depression brain is comparable to a hamster on a wheel who has just overdosed on Ritalin. Can you picture that? Now imagine having a conversation with all of that going on. Hmmm…
One of the most bizarre side effects of my illness is my inability to speak clearly at times. My speech is slurred. My thoughts come out as jibberish. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said something and had blank stares coming at me. Because what I was thinking didn’t make it, coherently, to my mouth. Have you ever had a conversation with someone who had weakened motor skills? That’s me. Could be all of the meds I’ve taken. Could be the ECT treatments. I don’t know. But it’s real.
Writing is often easier for us because it allows us to gather our thoughts before passing them along. When you’re on the phone or face to face, emotions can take over. Anxiety will dictate the narrative. This can lead to further confusion and hurt.
Texting and social media are a godsend to people with mental illness. You get a chance to write your CLEAR THOUGHTS down before hitting send. You can interact with friends and family without seeing the judgement or confusion on their faces. You can keep a piece of control and dignity.
But not everyone thinks about this. I try to take responsibility for my actions. I KNOW that it’s difficult to be a part of my world. I KNOW that it’s difficult to communicate with me. Especially when my preferred method of communication is not the preferred method of my friends and family.
So I usually retreat. I can’t explain my thoughts and feelings. I can’t constantly apologize. It hurts to think that I’m hurting others. And one of the downsides to this monster is that we carry the belief that we are at fault for EVERYTHING. We believe that if we weren’t broken, people would love us more. Or we’d be acceptable.
But when do people take ownership of their actions? Just because I’m broken, doesn’t mean that I should be mistreated.
In the first example- I truly thought that I had returned the person’s phone call. Even my daughter remembers me saying that I did. But you know what the person didn’t know? I had just undergone 8 ECT treatments and my memory was, once again, zapped. I truly meant no harm.
In the second example- I had been awake for two days. My meds were making me bonkers. And I was knee deep in a anxiety attack because of visitors who needed my attention. How do you explain that to someone?
I can write a novel about how many relationships suffer when someone is ill. But with physical illnesses, exceptions are made. With mental illnesses, it’s never forgiven.
I’m sorry for the pain I’ve caused. I’m sorry that this way of life offends some. I’m sorry that I’m not who I used to be. I’m sorry that you don’t understand the ways of my monster.
But I’m exhausted. So I will continue to retreat and wave from my valley.
Mentally Ill and Lonely(rebroadcast)