What Mentally Ill Looks Like
There is a wonderful woman named JoEllen Notte. She is researching “Sex and Depression” and will be publishing a book, called The Monster Under My Bed, sometime in the future. She is a blogger, researcher and a mental health advocate. You can read her thoughts on depression on her blog: Redhead Bedhead.
JoEllen will be joining me on February 22nd, 2017 to talk about these two highly stigmatised subjects … and the bullshit 1)I call it like I see it that inevitably comes when there is an intersection of the two. I am looking forward to this discussion. It is one that has great relevance in my own life. Keep an eye out for the promotional post next week.
While I was poking around her site, I found a writing she called What Mentally Ill Looks Like. I understand. Each time the public dialogue turns toward mental illness as a reasonable explanation for why some inexplicable thing happened, I cringe. Here we go again. I have no problem with depression, or anxiety, or any other ailment you wish to name, being a part of the public discourse. Hell, I want it to be a topic of discussion. We need to have this conversation. However, I don’t want scapegoating and generalisations. I want to hear, and read, and talk, about access to diagnosis and treatment; I want to talk about coping strategies and stigma reduction.
I’m not sick, but I’m not well
I am mentally ill. I usually don’t say it quite that bluntly. 2)and you won’t hear me saying I am crazy or nuts — though I am sometimes driven to either of those locations I will refer to my Mental Health Issues or restrict my conversation to singular things like depression or social anxiety, but rarely the two together. Rarer still is discussing all three because I won the trifecta.
The truth is, I have depression, panic disorder and psychosis. I am being treated for all three, but I still occasionally have moments. 3)if you will I also had a former partner who weaponised my diagnosis to gaslight me. You see, when you have a history of taking vacations from reality, it becomes easy to blame every situation on my inability to distinguish fact from fiction. Except I can. And I do. I always know when I am slipping and I haven’t had a psychotic break since 2009. However, when someone you love, who you believe loves you, uses their knowledge of your illness to excuse 4)actually, to deny their breaches of trust, it becomes hard to distinguish the truth. And, over time, you come to believe.
Have you ever wondered what agoraphobia feels like? 5)Do you even know what it is?
This is a writing that I posted to FetLife a couple of years ago. I thought I would share it here, now. I have agoraphobia. It is in remission. 6)sort of Each day, I try to get out of my house. Even if it is just to get the mail, I step out of my door. This may seem like a cake walk to many of you, but I spent over 4 years only leaving for weekly staff meetings and medical appointments. I was terrified to go out. I still struggle with this. 7)If you ever wondered where my name, AuntieSocial, came from, this is part of the answer That being said, I have an active social life. Human contact is healthy. 8)within reason I am fully committed to my mental health.
But Life …
She sits on the edge of her bed and surveys her partially clothed body. She can do this. Of course she knows she can. She has done it countless times before. Each time has been a struggle. They said it would become easier, but she now knew that they had lied. Each day was the same. The anxiety, the fear. Each day she did what needed to be done, but it never really becomes easier. Not really. She has built up more reasons to do it, but this part has never become easier.
Her clothes are laid out beside her. She carefully slips on a stocking, then another. She then slides off the bed and pulls her skirt up over her hips. Finally, she takes one last look before she pulls her shirt over her head.
Wandering around the house, she finds things to occupy her time … to distract her from the inevitable, but these chores can wait. They will be here, awaiting her attention later. She picks up her coffee mug and rinses it in the sink.
She can do this …
Her shoes are by the door, neatly lined up. She puts on the right, then the left. Her hand reaches for the door handle. It shakes. Her hand, not the handle. Her fingers ball into a fist and she pulls it back against her stomach. She now finds herself sitting on the stairs staring at the door. One shoe falls to the floor, startling her back to the here and now. She breathes deeply and slides her foot into the shoe while propelling herself towards the door. Her determination is set. Her hand finds and twists the handle and she is outside. Outside … where the danger is. She quickly closes the door before she can retreat back into the safety on the other side. No, she can do this … she must.
She takes the first step. Her hand balls around the bannister. Five, maybe six paces to go … yes, she can do this. She takes another step and another. Soon she is at her car. So far, so good. Nothing has happened. She is fine. She can …
Slipping into the driver’s seat, she looks longingly at the house. “There is safety in there,” she whispers to herself.
Turning the key in the ignition, she listens to the engine purr into life and the radio clicks on. A song from her early years, when she didn’t have fear. Inhaling deeply, she looks into her rearview mirror and slides the gear into reverse.
“… but life is out here.”
This is the daily internal dialogue of a recovering agoraphobe. But meeting the wonderful people in the community makes it worth the effort. It isn’t easier, but it is worth it.
Face of Depression
In the spirit of JoEllen’s post:
Hi. I am Camille Beaujolie. I also go by AuntieSocial online. Pleased to meet you.
I am a wife, daughter, sister, lover; a writer and radio show/podcast host; a friend and confidante. I am addicted to caffiene; love sushi and road trips to nowhere. Once upon a time, I was convinced I would marry Doc Holliday. 9)I was 5 Oh, and I also have an active social life which includes dinners, munches, family gatherings and play parties.
And, I am mentally ill.
I am the face of depression.
I am the face of anxiety and panic disorders.
Additionally, I am the face of psychosis.
This is what mental illness looks like.
Latest posts by Camille Beaujolie (see all)
- Rats in Jackets (Episode 49) - 2018-01-24
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References [ + ]
|1.||↑||I call it like I see it|
|2.||↑||and you won’t hear me saying I am crazy or nuts — though I am sometimes driven to either of those locations|
|3.||↑||if you will|
|4.||↑||actually, to deny|
|5.||↑||Do you even know what it is?|
|7.||↑||If you ever wondered where my name, AuntieSocial, came from, this is part of the answer|
|9.||↑||I was 5|
|10.||↑||Well one of many|