It’s mental health week, and i was reading a friend’s post about some of the stuff they deal with, and some schmo came on and talked to them like they were fucked up for sharing. So i wanted to take a lesson from my friend and share, keep it going, and not allow some folks’ unwillingness to even just be in the presence of someone’s words about it to get in the way…
So, i live with occasional bouts of pretty low grade depression, have done for most of my life, more so since a physically and emotionally traumatic car accident as a teen; have PTSD from that accident and another i hadn’t healed from two years previous, as well as from abuse and assault (i’m not going to talk about the latter here at all, just fyi); have lived with ADHD for most of my life; received a brain injury in 1997 (sounds like i got something cool! yeah, no lol), and am an alcoholic in recovery since August 2002. While my counselor has diagnosed me with low grade depression and ADD (which is another, money-related rant! grrr to financially inaccessible ADD testing!), i’ve never had the Big Formal Diagnosistm due to that aforementioned non-financial-accessibility (most folks who live with it are actually never Formally Diagnosedtm) and though i was on Amitriptyline as a kid (i didn’t learn til later that it was also a fairly hefty anti-depressant) don’t take meds for either.
It’s often hard for me to distinguish between what’s related to body pain and what’s something else. And let me tell you, as someone who really enjoys collating, sorting and analyzing, that really pisses me off! i mean, honestly, i don’t know what difference it’d make, but still! i tried many years ago to talk to my GP about the low grade depression, but her response was less than helpful/supportive, and i never did anything else about it. i’ve been in (free!) counseling since about 1997, and that shit has literally saved my life. So has getting sober, as has finding a med combination for physical pain that actually helps and doesn’t make me want to scratch my eyes out (though am now at the top end of the dosing, so am unsure what i’m going to do if these ones wear off).
i have a really amazing community of friends and loves, but even with that i often wonder why i’m so loathe to talk about it. Much as i’ve worked on feelings of shame and embarrassment around my shit, it’s still there, skulking around.
My Mum was seriously injured in the same crash as me and, as soon as i could, i was busy being Florence Nightingale martyr for her, since my sister was such an asshat and busy having sex, stealing shit (including more pairs of striped spandex pants), and beating people up, including me, and hard as he tried to be supportive my Da just didn’t understand any of it, least of all the psychological trauma. So anyways, i had a “don’t ask for help” mentality drilled into me early (raised with both catholic guilt AND a protestant “work ethic”, while getting none of the benefits of either, ugh, that shit is tired!). i didn’t learn how to ask for the help i needed. But i did learn to stuff it real good because it was shameful and embarrassing and just. not. done. Learned that long before then, but the car accidents added this whole other layer i wasn’t prepared for.
And i’ve worked to get over that shit for a long time.
There are times when i’m afraid of folks seeing my life as it is occasionally when i’m home, alone. It feels embarrassing sometimes, but there it is. The combination of low grade depression, PTSD, ADHD and head injury all collide sometimes and i can lose hours at a time; sometimes i come home and cry til i sleep because everything feels so overwhelming and then it passes as quickly as it came; sometimes i just feel “off”; sometimes i wonder if it’s genetic, if it’ll get worse as i age, or if i’ll be able to drift past it somehow. Sometimes i do feel very alone, and worried about my future. i do my thing and generally? i’m a pretty happy jolly bear. i don’t self injure anymore –haven’t for a very long time (which isn’t any judgement on what anyone else needs to do to be ok, but it’s definitely good for me), and i don’t drink anymore, which makes a huge difference for me. i do fret about what my future holds as a disabled person, for sure. i don’t have a job, don’t have much income or hope for one, and i worry about my life, it scares me sometimes, yeah, and the head stuff doesn’t help.
And that’s what it’s like with support. i know so many folks who deal with a wide range of mental health issues, whether or not combined with other stuff, and it’s rare for so many to talk about it, and rare to have a support network. i’m grateful when folks talk about the stuff they have going on. It makes a difference. It makes it possible for others to talk about it, opens a space for that. And sometimes that can make all the difference.