Sunday, April 17, 2016

Hi, my name is..

This is a new kind of post for me. I haven't ever really spoken out about the fact that i have a mental illness. Why decide to do it now? I don't know really--maybe I'm just tired of hiding it behind a smile. There will be (I hope) people who read this and have no idea who I am and some who will know me as a friend or family member. Either way, I hope this helps someone understand what it's like to live with a mental illness or that someone in a similar situation can relate.

In 2003 I was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder, type II to be precise. Type II is depressive bi-polar disorder and people with this tend to have more depressive episodes and their manic episodes are not as high as someone with bi-polar I. To be diagnosed at the age of 30 was a shock. It wasn't what I expected but it certainly explained certain behaviors, ways of thinking, etc. Various medications were tried until the right combination was found that worked for me and life went on.
Fast forward a few years, I have now moved and no longer see a psychologist or psychiatrist. My medication is being monitored by a small town MD. Not the best situation, but it was the one I had.
Fast forward a few more years, the medication is no longer working. I am having depressive episodes and see the local Nurse Practitioner where I am told that the only thing I probably need is a bump in dosage of one of my medications. At this time the only two medications I am taking are Topamax and Wellbutrin.
Fast forward to 2014. I am a wreck. My mental health has been on a steady decline for quite awhile although I have managed to keep it hidden from most. When I am having a bad day, meaning so depressed I physically can't get out of bed, I call into work with a migraine. Better than calling in crazy--at least that's how I looked at it. My job, which I had enjoyed is driving me insane. I come home everyday depressed and angry. I am working towards a breakdown and have no idea.
My husband gets a job offer which will move us about 60 minutes away. It didn't take much convincing. Anything would be better than the way life was going at that time. Unbeknownst to my husband, I had considered suicide more than once. Having experienced the loss of someone close to be by that means and knowing how it would affect my family kept me from it, but that is how bad it hurt.
I continued to work for the same place-from home and commuting until the end of 2014 when I had to tell them I was done. Not long after that I had what I would consider a mini breakdown. I couldn't, physically couldn't, get out of bed for at least a week. Ewww you say..well I did get up to go to the bathroom and take a shower about every other day, but I barely ate and would just go right back to bed. I was physically and mentally exhausted. I was so sad, but I couldn't tell you why. I cried all the time. I was so sad it physically hurt. I wish I could explain it better.
Eventually the fog started to lift a bit and I began to rebuild my life, but first I had to try to explain to my kids what the hell had just happened. My 14 year old daughter was terrified. She thought I had cancer or something because all she knew was I didn't feel well. I tried to explain the best I could, but it's hard to explain a disease you barely understand yourself because you have never really allowed yourself to admit that it is there. I decided it was time to go to the doctor. I went to a local GP, but thankfully she told me she was in over her head and referred me to a local mental health clinic.
I now see a psychiatrist and psychologist. My meds are checked every month and go to counseling twice a month. The difference is massive. Don't get me wrong, I am FAR from better. I was re-diagnosed. This time as Bi-polar I, Major Depressive Disorder, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I take 6 medications every morning to get me through the day. I am unable to work because of social anxiety among other things. I wish that I could say that my illness was a fluke, and that the likelihood of my daughters ending up with some form of mental illness was small to none. However, I come from a family where mental illness seems to be the norm. That is a guilt that is hard to take.
Everyday is a struggle because you never know how it is going to go. I could wake up and have a semi-normal day or I can wake up and have a day from hell. I rarely leave the house and when I do it is very rarely by myself. Even to go to the grocery store, I will wait for my youngest daughter to get home from school so she can go with me. Social anxiety is a killer bitch. School programs or other social events can be so stressful they require extra anxiety medication or can result in stress migraines.
The illnesses I live with suck. But I am very lucky because I have a supportive family. My husband is amazing. He tries as hard as he can to understand and doesn't judge.
I think people are so afraid of discussing mental illness because they only one side of it. People see the news where there is a discussion of a mentally ill person committing a crime; murder, rape, etc.. We throw around words associated with mental illness like they are nothing and they lose their meaning. "He must be crazy" "She must be crazy" "I swear she's bi-polar" "That person is totally schizo" It's so frustrating, and it hurts discussions about mental illness. We need to stop hiding in the shadows. People with cancer don't hide in the shadows. People with diabetes don't hide in the shadows. It's time that people with mental illness came out of the shadows as well. So here I am. Hi, my name is Krista and I have a mental illness.