So I am well aware that someone else penned (and owns) the Title: An Inconvenient Truth, and their’s was shocking and thought provoking. Earth shaking, land sliding, terrible tidal waves. Ground breaking. Thought provoking. And I think yes, me too. Me too a lot. I have earthquakes, I have landslides, and tidal waves every single day. And as I’ve said before, some people think this is invisible. That my internal storms don’t exist. Don’t matter. Aren’t serious enough. Are invisible. Can be shaken out of stuff, made worse by the we pretend mental illness doesn’t exist environment I and other people with mental illness live in. And I’m here to say it’s time for a very serious climate change.
Perhaps important to start by dispelling a few myths about mental illness that are held:
We aren’t criminals and don’t like jail: Anyone who has been inside a jail – criminal or otherwise – will tell you it isn’t a pretty place. There is very little that promotes mental health or rehabilitation to be a better person, including the I don’t know, being locked in vibe. This is the same for psychiatric hospitals. In the hospitals I’ve been to and paid for (yes, I paid for this) there is fancy chicken mesh on the balcony least you take a one floor plunge. There are bars on all the windows. Someone tells me when to go to bed, when to stop smoking and asking why I’m crying too much. Wow. Let me have a panic attack about the fact that you are treating me like a kid when I have so painfully been treated like I wasn’t, when I was. Aside from that – we don’t have Summer Camp in Africa. Please don’t Camp Counsellor me, with psychiatric medication, that I pay for, in a hospital. No. If I want to sleep, please leave me alone.
I am purposefully acting like a pool of sadness slime: People with mental illness are often told they are lazy, sleep too much, need to get up, need to be productive. Need to wake up when they haven’t slept, when they really, really, really while everyone else was snoring, wanted to. I don’t own a sufficient amount of disgust to convey on this. I’d have to muster up CENTURIES of disgust to spit in retort. Contrary to popular perception: I don’t like depression, and I’ve not come across a person with mental illness who does. I am NOT purposefully crying the day away, not able to move, inhaling candy, cigarettes and anything generally unhealthy on purpose. Basically, I am not pretending to be sad, I am not pretending that my depression is deeper than it really is because I actually really don’t want it. No-one who really experienced depression actually wants it. Also the “are you having an eyeore day” joke isn’t cute. I don’t have a raincloud that follows me, eyeore stands upright and eats thorns not chocolates, so there is NO similarity.
Emotionally Extra: Since I was little, I used to think and feel in exclamation marks. And I had neither the capacity nor the vocabularly to express myself. And in retrospect, my ability to voice what I felt and was feeling reduced, not increased, because of the frosty reception I received when displaying the mental illness of me. Each time I was told I was extra, that I told neverending stories and that I shouldn’t wear my heart on my sleeve. As a little girl that was a shocking idea. Didn’t my heart need to be in my chest to function? And so because I was the problem, people have continually given me “advice” about how to contain myself, cry less, smile more. Smile and wave even. At times where I felt like I could barely put one foot in front of the other.
So I have news – I will no longer be told I’m an incovenience. I will not listen when I am told that I am extra. No. Instead, I am here to start a hurricane of hope, a landslide of lithium (cause why not) and a group of people who are decidedly extra that want to be extra with me too. Because like the movie An Inconvenient Truth – the reality is, that people with mental illness are becoming the majority. Depression will overtake – according to projections – deaths due to some other life threatening illness. The point is I’m not inconvenient, I’m not extra, and yes I can eat candy like no other, smoke dangerously asleep, and topple beautiful mugs in a store when you (and I) least expect it. That doesn’t mean I deserve to be treated like an inconvenience. No-one does. Stand up people with mental illness. Let’s create a new storm that floods out stigma. Rains out discrimination. I know I want to. Be part of those who support us as opposed to those who don’t. I am 4 M’s Bipolar Mom.
Photo Credit: unsplash-logoTy Feague