The Diary Of A Warrior: Warrior VS Stigma

After publishing my previous post, Four Sixteen, I received many messages telling me how brave I am for posting and talking about my conditions on the web. I know each message came from a place of love and support, but it made me think: why does it make me brave?

If I had a physical condition  and posted about my illnesses on the web, no one would’ve told me how brave I am for talking about it and sharing my “secret”. So why, just because my conditions are classified as mental illnesses does it make me brave?

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Via EverybodyHasABrain

And I realised that there is an even bigger stigma behind mental illness than I thought. But why? Most mental illnesses are caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain or the “wiring’s” not working that well, which can be fixed with medication. Yes,we do have our bad days, but so do others with physical illnesses. A diabetic needs insulin as someone with depression needs more dopamine or  serotonin to function.

People are the reason we don’t talk about it, I think this image explains pretty well how people with mental illnesses are treated.

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Image via imgur

Yep, that’s how people are talked to, I have been told a thousand times “just pull yourself together. It’s only in your mind”.

I have interictal psychosis – which is kind of like brain epilepsy. So sometimes, when I experience anxiety, I have impaired speech and most of the time it turns into hallucinations. My wiring is just a bit off, like a diabetic’s pancreas – which is also an awful illness you have to live with every day. But with the help of epilepsy medication and an antipsychotic, I’m fine most of the time.

Having bipolar disorder is a bit different, it has to do with the hormones in the brain. There is no medication for bipolar disorder (science, get on that, thanks), one little pill that I can drink to stay chilled and on route and not stop at the manic or depressed station. There are different types of bipolar, but I’m not gonna bore you with the details. So what do we drink to keep ourselves on route? Wine; I wish. We are on a combination of epilepsy meds/ mood stabilisers and antidepressants. Now, like I said  in my previous post, finding the right combination is no joke. But when you do, you’re okay, most of the time. And like everybody else you sometimes stop at the wrong station or have an off day.

So why are people so afraid of mental illness and to talk about it? But people immediately think aggressive and crazy when they hear the word bipolar. And they think you need to be locked away in the Arkham Asylum if you see or hear things that are not there. I even got asked by friends if there isn’t a demon living inside of me, causing these delusions. Nope.

Warr;ors get bad mouthed every day, and it’s not helping. It’s making things worse; it leads to being afraid of going to a psychiatrist, admitting there might be something wrong, leaving medication and even suicide.

Most people are not educated about mental illness, even though one out of every four people suffer from some sort of mental illness. Don’t let ignorance and stigma stand in the way of your health Warr;ors. If we talk more about it, then it won’t be so weird anymore. So, sort of like Fifty Shades of Grey.

 

The Diary Of A Warrior: Four Sixteen

 

Warrior

As I’m writing this I’m sitting in a multi-care unit for the mentally ill. Some people call it mental hospitals, some looney bins and others see it as the last roof they will stare at whilst laying in a tiny white sheeted bed. I see a bunch of warriors catching their breath.

In here we see each other as “normal”, in other words, people that just need some medication to function and sometimes have a bit of a relapse, because that’s how illnesses work. But once we step outside we’re seen as abnormal, because we need tablets to function day-to-day, because sometimes we act differently and because sometimes we have relapses and end up back in the so-called looney bin.

I’m not a jar, but a person – so there is no need for a label. I have bipolar disorder; sometimes I also see, hear and feel things that are not there and I have extreme anxiety. On my meds, I am fine, but to get the right combination of meds to work in sync is where the problem comes in. You start out on a few pills and you wait for your body to adjust. Usually, it’s a waiting period of three weeks for your body to get used to the side-effects. And about three months to see if the new combo of pills works for you; it differs from person to person. The side-effects are unbearable; nausea, vomiting, vertigo, dizziness, impaired speech, insomnia and the list goes on and on. If it doesn’t work, the process starts again from the beginning. But we can take it, and after a few years, you get used to it.

Being depressed is like being thrown into a very deep well. You try to get out, of course you do, but you have this pain feeding off you, and when you finally build up the strength, the walls are too slippery, and you realise there’s no way out. There is nobody around to hear you. The pain keeps feeding off’ you and you can see yourself disappearing until you just want to disappear once and for all. And the voices tell you to sink into the darkness and just let go.

Mania, when it comes around is like euphoria; you fly out of that deep dark well. It feels like everyone’s tiny ants and you love your life. You are impulsive, you wear your heart on your sleeve, you don’t think twice before buying that gorgeous expensive red pumps and you do whatever your brain thinks of first. You get a lot done, you’re creative and you act like you’re drunk all the time. And people don’t understand how that sad person they saw yesterday can talk so much today. And then you crash. And you’re thrown back in the hole again.

Tomorrow, 16 April – is International Semicolon Day, a day dedicated to people with mental illness. Project Semicolon is based on one single message:

“A semicolon represents a sentence the author could have ended but chose not to. That author is you and the sentence is your life.”

So, you’ve probably seen people with semicolon tattoos, and wondered if these people just really love grammar? Maybe, but most of the people inked their skin because they struggle with depression, anxiety, self-harm, schizophrenia or any other form of mental illness. So mark yourself tomorrow with a semicolon to show that you support the warriors or even yourself.

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Me with my semicolon tattoo – I added cat ears to mine, because since I was a little girl, a cat has always been a light in my dark well.

I will not be the one who decides when or how my story ends. I will keep on fighting, along with fellow warriors.