Me, Myself and I Monday – I am the Face of Mental Illness

Awhile back, the Bloggess called upon her minions(of which I am pleased as the spike in the punch to be one) to come out about their mental illness in hopes of creating some lifesaving mojo by tossing the whole stigma thang out on the lawn for all to see.  Last week motherfucking Aunt Becky(I’d drink her Kool-Aid any day of the week.  Even the green.) from Mommy Wants Vodka put out a call to the Band to wear their diagnoses like a badge of honor to again kick that nasty old stigma in the formidable nutsack.  Or taco, if I have the proper recall.

I’ve said it before and it’s not been a secret to anyone who knows me for lo on 25 years now, but I’mma spill the whole mess out here in the space for once and for ever ever.  And I’m going to encourage YOU to do so too.  Write it on your blog, in your diary or at Band Back Together where you can be all incognito like a word ninja.  Just do it because who doesn’t want to kick mental illness in the taco?

I was normal until around age 8, after my folks had split and right before we made the move to LaLa Land into the all consuming arms of the cult.  That move took me straight into freak status, but right before then I was just barely stretching the normal boundary.  Everything started when my mother, in typical 70′s fashion, decided to find herself.  Which meant going on a treasure hunt for god through every new age, marginal, crazier than balls religiously flavored group of weirdos found in the greater Omaha area.

It was pretty enjoyable to me as a little kid to be included in the oddball activities like sense drawing or chanting or other things that I have more than likely blocked due to extreme weirdness.  What was not so enjoyable was being packed up and moved to Cali to live in one room of a motel with my mother and sister and submit to the will of a fringe spiritual community.  So I got a little rebellious.  Disagreed, quite vocally, with all things religious and rules related.  There were many rules around food, mostly that anything with taste or enjoyment was out of the question.  Which is when I developed my very first eating disorder.  I restricted my intake and shrank during the school year and ballooned up in the Omaha summers spent with my dad and sister.  That led to more issues in regards to food so I have been the face of Anorexia, Bulimia and Compulsive Overeating.

Add up all of this stress, the eating issues, divorce issues, major oppression by a religious commune and cue the depression.  I gained my official diagnosis at age 12 and went through many variations of said diagnosis until finally settling upon Major Depressive Disorder, Recurrent Episodes in my early 20′s.

Along the way, I was saddled with some misdiagnoses one of which, to be honest, was my own damn fault as I may have misrepresented some aspects of my life and experiences including throwing in having visions of a diminutive bearded creature that spat obscenities and insults.  In hindsight, probably not the slickest idea to conjure up that particular kind of weirdness to someone who is able to diagnosis and medicate you accordingly.  It did give me great satisfaction and spiteful glee at the time.  Until the heavy meds and Schizoaffective Disorder Dx anyway.  That and three medicated years down the drain.  Until the next hospitalization to wean me from those same meds and diagnose me with Borderline Personality Disorder.  At age 17, which in my professional(yes, I am a licensed social worker and therapist qualified to dole out the Dx) opinion, is bullshit.  Adolescents are far too changeable, hormonal and chaotic to have such a diagnosis hung around their necks.  As the doctor that diagnosed me informed me eight years later in therapy when he changed my diagnosis.

Depression is the super lame.  It pulls out every bit of awesome, of win, of YOUness and leaves the whiny, maudlin, lifeless mass of your exterior slack under the covers or on the couch.  I was seen as lazy, as boring, as a loser, as a free loader.  And I totally took on every one of those qualifiers and used them to further my depression.  It felt like a was moving through cement, like my thoughts and feelings had so much weight I could barely move.  I could sleep up to 18 hours a day at the lowest point and did little else besides lie in front of the teevee when conscious.  My dad kept telling me to pull myself out of it, to just do it, but there was not a chance of that being possible at the time.

I’ve had probably five major episodes in my life and a few others that were somehow staved off before hitting their stride.  I have been of most every medication and medication combo out there.  I have been hospitalized three times, done a one time stint in rehab(somehow thanks to jeebus or the universe that took the first go round) and had one suicide attempt which was more of a gesture.  I had a tingle of post partum after my son was born, but nothing like so many other women have suffered through.  My last full fledged episode was so many years ago that I can’t rightly recall it.  My last hospitalization was even longer ago – rehab at the Rimrock Foundation in 1996.

All of that and I made it through.  I came out the other side.  I still fight the old tapes on the daily and I still have hara-kiri thoughts fairly regularly, but they’re ghosts really.  I have a life now – a marriage, a badass kid, friends, my family back, a career if someone wants to give me a j-o-b in these hard times yo, a sense of interest, excitement and maybe even a tinch of happiness.  And yet still, I am the face of Depression.

6 thoughts on “Me, Myself and I Monday – I am the Face of Mental Illness

  1. I just want to say how proud I am of you! I’m second in command at Band Back Together and am so glad you joined in for this amazing exercise. You may be the face of depression, but you’re a gorgeous one. A kick ass one. And you’re not your diagnosis. xoxo

    1. I am filled up to the brim with love from the awesomeness of your words. Thanks for them as well as for building the Band and for providing the safe room and the support so we can clear the cobwebs out of the dark corners.

  2. I had my first depression at age 14, and you capture it exactly, as moving through cement. To have a sense of interest and excitement is a miracle that I treasure in my life.

    1. It is a complete and utter miracle that I never thought could happen to me. Glad you got out of the muck too:)

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