Pop culture had shaped my views on mental illness and psychiatry, so I approached therapy with some trepidation. Would I have to lie on a couch while the therapist sat out of sight, furiously scribbling notes in a journal? Would I be forced to talk about embarrassing things from my past? Would those notes be sent to my insurance company for billing purposes the way my medical records are made available upon request?
Stability is subtle. If you knew me when I was sick and struggling, you’d see enough of a change in me today that I might appear normal. Not pretending to be normal to blend in, but less awkward, less preoccupied, more present. That’s what I want, to be free to be mentally ill and still be a part of the landscape of human connection without the pretense of convention.
I’ve heard so many stories about people that are faced with a friend or family member that is struggling, and because they feel like they don’t know what to do, and fear they may do something “wrong,” they ignore it. They put it off and hope someone else jumps in to help.
My past gave me strength to move forward and be a voice for mental health discussions. There were many difficult times along my journey and days I thought I would not survive, but I did. Instead of letting the words people say to you bring you down, let them empower you. For each of you is a warrior and a voice, together we can change to discussions surrounding mental health disorders.
I believed that it was somehow normal for insects to live under the skin. I was too embarrassed to seek help because I never thought anything was wrong. Even after I was diagnosed with schizophrenia, I kept my bug problem to myself. It’s only recently that I’ve opened up about it in therapy. I’ve dealt with it since my first break at twenty-one.
We are constantly told that bipolar is not something that can be cured. And that may definitely be true. But what we need to start telling each other is that there is a better way to live with it. Whether it comes in waves of hours, weeks, or months. We are the only ones in charge of taking care of ourselves.
Since getting my medications adjusted sixteen months ago, I’ve become incrementally capable of responding to the common reality despite schizophrenia’s influence. I’m more keenly aware of the difference between what I think is happening and what is actually happening. I’m growing more adept at handling reality as it comes to me, carefully sidestepping any mental pitfalls that might otherwise derail my ensuing thoughts and reactions.