Living with an emotional or mental illness is like living with a monster with many faces. Your emotional and mental state is never constant, but can change at the blink of an eye.
One moment you are so hyper that you feel like you will explode…the next you might feel so low it would take a hundred foot pole to touch a snake’s belly…another you might, just out of the blue, be so frustrated and enraged that you want to punch something, or, god forbid, someone.
Some days you feel so edgy that it takes very little to set you off. Your reaction could be laughter at the weirdest, or in some cases, most inappropriate things or times…a sudden onset of extreme hyper wordiness…an inability to sit still or to focus on any one thing…or it could be flashes of rage that hit so fast you don’t even have time to try to prevent them.
And then some days you are so sad, so depressed, that just the act of simply breathing doesn’t even seem worth the effort. You simply do not care about anything, or any one…including yourself.
I would like to reach out to any that should read these posts that suffer an emotional or mental illness yet are still able to think and reason and function more or less rationally and ask you to share how you handle living with the symptoms.
Do you use coping skills?
Do you take meds and if so, do you take them faithfully?
Do you ever have days you just want to say “To heck with the meds!” and simply stop taking them, even knowing what will happen if you do?
Do you ever feel rage at the fact that your independence and ability to function on your own, more or less, revolves around taking meds?
Do you ever feel sometimes that you have your illness permanently branded into your forehead for all of the world to see and judge you on?
Do you ever feel that the world treats you like a moron, like you have no sense, no brains, once it learns you suffer an emotional or mental illness?
Do you ever feel like you are shunted aside…ignored…a ghost simply because people who know about your illness treat you as if you have nothing of worth to say or offer?
Do you ever feel like a failure because no one seems to notice you have talents or things you can do?
Do you hold your illness within, trying to act like others, out of fear of rejection, ridicule, or even possible physical abuse if others became aware of it?
Are you afraid to get close to others, or let others close to you, out of fear of their reaction if they find out?
If you answered yes to even one third of the above questions, then please know that you are not alone. There are literally millions of us in this world.
And there are places that can help us, but first we must face one of the biggest decisions we will probably ever make in connection to our illness…
To deny it
To face it
In trying to deny it…trying to pretend it does not exist…we, in the end, actually give our illnesses more power over us, for we allow them to deny us not only the comfort of possible friends and other supportive human contact, we deny ourselves the choice to seek possible help.
It is somewhat comparable to that “monster under the bed” that frightened us so much as children. We lay there, night after night, afraid to move for fear of awakening that beast.
Only when we gained the courage to grab the flashlight of truth and shine it beneath the bed of that fear did we discover that the monster we had been so afraid of turned out to be dirty socks, dust bunnies and pieces of pizza that would have qualified for exhibits in an archeological display.
But to turn and face that monster head on only to find that the shadow of fear had been much larger than the monster itself, ah, now that is a heady feeling.
Denial, of anything, not just an illness, is like placing the thing that you deny behind you, allowing it to dog your footsteps, with the light of denial throwing that things shadow ahead of it…over you…and enlarging it. It is impossible to fight shadows.
Only when you turn and face the thing casting that shadow, when you view it in the light of truth, then and only then can you see the reality of that thing you feared. Only then will you see the true nature of the beast and know what you are up against, thereby giving you an idea of what weapons you need to deal with it.
Remember this, just because you turn your back on a venomous serpent does not mean that it does not exist and will not strike.
Only when you face the truth can you begin to take steps to find ways of coping with and even possibly conquering the problem. And this is true of all things that we give the power to harm us, destroy our live, happiness and futures through denial.
Only when you turn and face that “monster with many faces” will you be able to see behind the masks.