Stigma

So far I have made it through another week.  Two days ago, I wouldn’t have given good odds on my being here today to write this.  I am so tired of just making it through each day.  I want to feel like I am actually living each day.  Maybe I would be happier if there wasn’t a part of me that knows that I could feel better than I do right now?
  The biggest accomplishment for me this week was an interview with social assistance.  I think it went well and hopefully I will have some income soon.  An advocate from a local nonprofit organization went with me.  Having the support, even just as a cheerleader made it easier.  Not being able to work and relying on social assistance has brought up some unanticipated feelings, though.
   My father was a conservative southern republican.  His views on social assistance were not kind to the people who need it.  I haven’t really thought about that in years and years.  My views and his have obviously always been miles apart.  I can only imagine what he would have to say if he were to learn that his only son is, in fact, a daughter who is not able to work because of mental illness.  
   Anyway, while I was growing up I often heard his take on anyone who couldn’t work.  I heard how mental illness is not real in his eyes and how anyone could just suck it up and work if they really wanted to.  This week I have found myself thinking his thoughts about me.  I have never thought that about anyone else, but I am applying his standards and his stigmas to myself.  It really sucks but I can’t seem to convince myself otherwise.  I feel so ashamed for being how I am and not being able to work or be productive.  On top of that, I am ashamed for sharing in any part of my fathers conservative views, even if they are just applied to me.  
  All this coupled with extremely dissapointing news about DBT treatment has made this one of the tougher weeks for me.  I think I will probably just hide at home this weekend to try to recharge for week ahead.  I really just want to be halfway normal and be able to find some joy in my life.  I hope I can get there someday before I destroy myself.

Too Many Changes

I have lived with my BPD and depression for many years without looking for help.  I am honestly not too sure how I survived, but I have made it so far.  Now that I am looking for help and being honest about how messed up my life is, I can’t see going back to suffering in silence.  Being open about it is leading to changes and right now they are pretty hard to take.
This week and last I am facing the fact that I am not totally sure when I will be able to work full time again.  Before I opened up, I was not being fair to my employers.  I knew there were times they were not getting what they paid for because I wasn’t capable of concentrating and doing a good job.  I was always worried they would find out and fire me, so I would leave before that could happen.  This is the longest I have been unemployed since I graduated from University, though and it is a strange place to be in.  I feel so useless and unproductive.  At least when I had a job, I was forced to get up, shower and dress to go be unproductive.  Now I can do it unshowered from the comfort of my own bed.  I don’t like it at all.
  No job also means I will have to rely on employment insurance or income assistance.  I know this is a legitimate use of these, but I still feel like a useless burden.  The limited income will mean moving to subsidized housing.  There is nothing to be ashamed of in any of this, my illnesses are very real, very crippling and very much a threat to my existence right now, but I can’t help but think I am taking resources someone more deserving needs.  
  This really sucks when all I wanted was good counselling and help with my depression and BPD.  Unfortunately this is the help I can’t find.  I struggling to find a reason to keep going.  Without this help I could be a burden to others for a while, and what is the point of that?  There is a huge battle going on in my mind most of the time now and depression seems to be turning it’s foothold into a stronghold.  

I Know

I know that how I feel isn’t necessarily a reflection of reality.  I know I have no reason to believe my GP is actually tired of me and will tell me to find a new doctor when I see her Monday.  I know going to the spot I dream of ending my life at isn’t a healthy coping strategy.  I know dreaming of ending my life isn’t healthy.  I know I should eat better.  I know I should exercise more.  I know I should go outside more than 2 or 3 times a week.  

What else do I know?

I know how I feel is absolutely my rrality right now.  I know I cry worrying about the only health professional who listens to me leaving me.  I know the spot I dream of ending my life at calms my mind.  I know dreaming of ending my life brings me peace.  I know I don’t have the motivation to eat better.  I know I don’t  have the energy to exercise.  I know going outside even 2 days a week is an accomplishment right now and more than 3 is next to impossible.  

It may not look like much to anyone else, but I am trying really hard.  I know what everyone says I need to do and I know what I am up to.  I am doing more than I am up to right now.  Without help, this is the best I can do and the fact that I am still alive must mean I am doing something right?

I Understand

A nurse called me last weekend to check up on me after I was discharged from hospital.  The phone call got off to a particularly bad start because the organizatiin he works for had consulted with a doctor I had made it perfectly clear I did not trust and would not work with anymore.  It only got worse when he asked me how I was.  I was pretty honest, at the time I was in a lot of emotional pain and was frustrated with the whole system that was supposed to help me.  I did not see much hope in ever receiving help or of ever feeling better.  He said, “I understand.”
I know I get agitated when I am frustrated, but I think no matter what mood I was in, this would not have been received well.  I said, “Oh, you have been in anguish and not been listened to at all by supposed caregivers?”  He said, “No, but I can understand.”  That is when I called bullshit.  He admitted he had never been in a situation even remotely like mine.  There is no way he could understand.  He has never had to live in fear of what he might do to himself but looking forward to the relief it might bring at the same time.  I am a pretty smart person (despite what some of these caregivers think, you can be intelligent and diagnosed with a mental illness) and I know I could never come close to understanding this without living it.  
For me, it would have been much better for him to say he understood what I was saying or that it sounded painful or something instead of pretending he knew what it was like to be me.  I have a lot of respect for people who share their lived experiences with mental illness.  Some of those stories really resonate with me and sometimes it is nice to know you aren’t the only one.  I have zero respect for someone assuming they understand what it feels like.  If he would have told me he had lived with mental illness and had gone through these dark moments, I would have accepted that he truly understands.  No one’s experiences are going to be just like mine, but it possible to come to a close understanding of others struggles if you have struggled in similar ways.  

Help is Out There?


There is still a question mark because I am not entirely convinced.  Last week the title would have been There is No Hope with no question mark.  This is a huge improvement in just a week that maybe I can climb out of this dark and painful place I am in.
I have been begging for help from a system that does not consider the individual.  They have not listened to me, they have witheld medication as a form of punishment when I didn’t agree with them and they have dangled the carrot of hope in front of me only to yank it away.  For over two months I have worked with a mental health team that has done nothing to help.  When I ask them for help, I am usually given reasons why that help is not available to me and offered no alternative.  Now, after being in hospital three times in the last two weeks, it looks like things may be shifting.
One week ago, I left a meeting with my mental health team feeling completely hopeless and alone.  It was after office hours but I reached out to the only two people who I thought may listen and understsnd.  I left a message for my GP and an advocate in the health system who helps trans people find proper care.  These two were my absolute last hope.
Over the last week, both of these individuals have listened to me.  Both have understood what I was saying.  Both have spent hours trying to help me.
I realize one single person will not have all the answers, but these two have mapped out a path at least.  Identifying resources in a complicated system and accessing these resources is a herculian task when I am depressed.  Sometimesl being given a step by step plan is just the encouragement and help I need.  The first thing that happened was my doctor getting in touch with my mental health team to tell them I would no longer work with them.  This has made me eligible for services that can really help.  My doctor also mapped out what I need to do to access these services and that process is now underway.  
I have also been told about some organizations that my mental health team never mentioned.  I visited one on Monday and in a few hours I had worked with two different advocates to help me with income and housing.  These are two things I had been asking my team for help with for over a month.  If they had pointed me in the right direction, these would have been cleared up by now.  
I can see a much better path ahead now but it has been a fight to get here.  It seems impossible at times, but help is out there.  I felt like giving up so many times.  I spent agonizing sleepless nights crying and talking to crises lines.  Just saying it isn’t always easy doesn’t even begin to describe how bad it is and what it takes to keep going.  At times all that kept me going was those two allies holding hope for me.  I guess faith would be more accurate because I don’t honestly think they knew at the time what to do.  It can be done though.  
I know the system isn’t right, also.  If I had been listened to and if the professionals I was working with had been aware of the resources available in the community, it would have saved me a lot of pain and probably saved the system a lot of money.  Help should not be this hard to find and help should have never left me alone and feeling worse.  I have started including members of my province’s government in my tweets, including copies of my blog posts, in the hopes that the system can be improved so others may not have to face these same difficulties alone.

This Disease Feeds Itself

I don’t think it is any secret that the last couple of weeks have been tough for me.  My depression has taken over again and I am struggling.  I just got off a long phone call that made it more clear how this disease feeds itself and I wanted to write about it while it is fresh on my mind.  Maybe rereading it will even help me in another hour when it has taken over again, because I am certain it will.
There is a post on Facebook called “I brushed my hair today.”  If you haven’t seen it and want to understand more about depression, I would recommend reading it.  
I have kept quite about my depression for way too long.  That has made it worse, but that is one of the ways it feeds itself.  Shame and isolation just serves to deepen it.  It is really insiduous that way.  If shame itself isn’t enough to isolate me, depression makes everyday tasks seem herculean at times.  Finding the energy and motivation to shower or brush my teeth can take hours and hours or even days sometimes.  How could I face anyone if basic hygiene seems so daunting?  That just makes me feel worse about myself which again just worsens the depression.
Today my depression has me questioning whether I deserve to ask for the help I need.  I am in dire need of help right now.  I know the professional I need to talk to tomorrow and I know she would not tell me to stop bugging her even if she thought I was.  I don’t think she has ever thought that, though.  What my mind is telling me tonight is that I am expecting too much.  I shouldn’t ask for the help I need at this time.  I have received help in the past and it is unreasonable to look for it again.  I need to do this on my own this time.  I have no right to ask for help.  I am not worthy of receiving help.
The truth is, what I need to ask for is not unreasonable.  The help I am seeking is impossible for me to do on my own at this moment.  I am fought out and need a little outside support to help me get back on my feet.  The truth is, I can ask for help.  I have always had trouble asking for help and I wouldn’t be asking unless it was absolutely necessary.  
Depression causes me to believe the lies that keeps me stuck in the depression.  Right now that seems so clear.  I am glad someone took the time and effort to point it out to me tonight.  I also know myself well enough to know that no matter how clear it is at this particular moment, by tomorrow it will mot be clear.  All that will ne clear tomorrow is that I am not worth the help and it would be selfish to ask for it.  Tomorrow all that will be clear are the lies depression fills my mind with.  
If you feel you should stay silent, don’t believe it.  If you feel you aren’t worthy of help, don’t believe it.  I know it isn’t always that easy.  I am there too.  When those lies are the only clear thing in my mind tomorrow, I will read this and try to take my own advice.  

You Look Fine

In the past week I have been told this by two different hospitals.  I hate hearing this and let my nurse know about it Sunday morning.  Ok, maybe losing my shit was not the most productive thing.  I was in a very emotional state and locked in a observation unit at the time though. Maybe yelling at her is understandable even if it was not the right thing to do.

   My MH team has told me the same thing, ” you look fine.”  What I now hear when someone tells me that is”we are not going to do anything to help you.”  That is what it has meant, really.  I have not figured out how mental illness can be diagnosed by looking at someone.  I wish I knew what BPD or depression looks like.  Maybe I could put on the right look to get help.  
   I wish they would at least talk to me before diagnosing me.  Or look at my track record, it has not been good the last couple of weeks.  If my MH team had listened to me 2 months ago I may not be in the crises I am in now.  I was doing better then but I knew I needed help before it went downhill again.  I told them that and they said “it looks like you are doing good.”  I wonder if all of these professionals would think I looked good when I was standing on the bridge for 2 hours contemplating ending my life?  
    I have said it before, I think looking good is the definition of highly functioning for someone with mental illness.  It in no way means they have their shit together or they do not need help and support.  At least it does not for me.
P.S.  One fun note from my last hospital stay:   Saturday at dinner I started feeling a little sick.  I had eaten half of the food on my tray and left it at the table for no more than 5 minutes to get up and walk a little.  When I came back, a young girl was eating my blueberry cake.  That was the only part of the meal that looked good.  I was pissed but polite.

Monday morning at breakfast, that same girl sat with me to eat.  No mention was made of my cake.  It turned out she was a super nice person and we chatted and even shared our food with each other.  We had a lovely morning together and a nice hug as I was leaving.  I was able to sincerely wish her the best.  She turned out to be the best part of my stay there.