Throughout my life, I’ve wondered if I have or will have a mental illness. How would I know?
Whenever I learned of our family history of Depression, I worried about my future. As I noticed others’ outlooks, positivity, and functionality; I thought something might be wrong with my darker views. When a close relative admitted to problems in her adult years and went on medications, I grew more anxious.
I know the darkness of my mind. I’ve felt helpless, depressed, diminished, and unwanted. But I suppose I expected official Depression to hit like a reckless cement truck.
You know: WHAM!
Then, a knowledgeable doctor would pick me up, brush me off, and medicate me so much I couldn’t see straight.
After watching my relatives test medications on themselves like lab rats, I had no desire to voluntarily consider that route. I didn’t want the side effects. I. could. control. this.
What I didn’t realize was that mental illness can be the sort of thing that builds up. Rather, the effects of it can build up. All that time, I kept searching around street corners and avoiding high traffic areas, and it was inside me.
Having birthed a couple of children who already exhibit signs of mental issues, I know these issues can be present from the get-go. I’ve talked to people like that as well.
However, as with all the lovely writers on here, I write from my experience. I live in my body and think with this brain, but still feel a bit lost. So, how would I know about you?
I don’t. You know about you.
Which leads me back to my initial question: how would I know if I had a mental illness? Specifically, did I have to treat it? Specifically, would I have to take medicine, get fat, and lost my limited libido and thinking capacity?
This is where everyone on here keeps hammering this point home: SEE A THERAPIST. Or a counselor, doctor who knows what s/he’s doing, psychologist, psychiatrist, etc.
Don’t have one? Ask around. Seriously -everyone knows one. Go meet with the person and see if s/he is a good fit. Try another one if not.
Worried that you’ll stress the therapist out? Dude; they’re paid to listen to people like us.
I have been seeing a counselor for marital issues. I guess I just can’t have one problem; but, I think a lot of people are in that boat. It may be a cruise liner.
Anyway -during a session, I brought up the fact that I was concerned about the way I behaved each month. You know: women cycling stuff. For the sake of anyone who might relate; I had an extremely depressive day, an irrational thoughts day, one wherein I couldn’t find everything, a few days of skin breakouts, one where I had no tact, and a few hours of manic energy just before starting.
The counselor listened to my description, then joked a bit about how I may feel depressive and irrational, but I wouldn’t do -and she finished with a random, hypothetical situation. I believe it involved whether I’d actually hurt someone in my family.
“Well,” I admitted, “I think I would.”
Remember, she’s paid to listen. Still, I was worried about her responses. Child Protective Services, perhaps?
Very seriously, she said, “It sounds like you need medical help.”
Since we’re being completely candid, I will tell you that no heavens opened for me. No relief came pouring in. Instead, I began sobbing. My worst fears were confirmed: I was mental. I was abnormal. I would have to take medicine.
My counselor seemed dumbfounded at my response, and expressed her confusion. Through tears, I explained that I didn’t want to go on heavy medications and have all the side effects, and I’m sure I rambled even more than I am doing right here to you.
She reassured me that all was not apocalyptic. She knew someone, a doctor who tested hormone levels. She thought I should start there.
I intend to write more about this in another post, but also do not intend to leave you with a cliff-hanger.
So, I’ll tell you that it’s been working so far; “working” being a description for “not thinking irrationally” and “being able to have a different perspective” and “looking back at my old behaviors like a detached anthropologist.”
As James E. Skye himself, and many other contributors, have noted; there’s no cure. However, just the ABILITY TO FUNCTION at a level much nearer that of ten years ago is worth it.
Stop wondering. Go find a talk-doctor; a paid friend. It’s worth it.
YOU’RE worth it.
(My writing site, in case you’re interested.)