I am now 51 years old and I am finally beginning to take charge of my recovery process from severe bipolar disorder. I have been struggling with this illness since I was 18 or maybe even younger. I was hospitalized when I was 23 and frequently strapped to the bed and shot in the rear with heavy medications.
I had been in a stupor for the last ten years from heavy medications and I was, as a friend of mine put it a “doormat.” I didn’t know how to advocate for myself or say no to anything and this got me into a lot of trouble.
I have been thinking a lot lately about my own recovery process from mental illness and addictions and also about working with others who suffer from these maladies which I would really like to do one day.
I am very sensitive to language and stigma in regards to mental and emotional disorders and I am finally learning to be more assertive about this.
Most people wouldn’t tell someone with cancer that they have to “Work on themselves.” They say they need to get treatment and they need to take care of themselves and be cared for, even though all of this often involves a lot of work as well. But this term is applied to me and my peers who suffer from mental disorders all the time.
Terminology concerns me. My own therapist wrote in a text to me when I was very upset that “The pain you feel is just pain…it can’t hurt you…”
But in reality pain does literally hurt you. I have seen people die from suicides and over-doses. I have seen the walking wounded who suffer from these illnesses and I am one of them.
People with cancer get sympathy… and people who suffer from addictions and emotional and mental disorders often get tough love and discipline which I admit can be helpful sometimes but can also be damaging to one’s self esteem.
I am finally finding my voice and am starting to learn how to use it. My goal from this point on is to advocate for myself and my fellow sufferers.