When Your Sickness Isn't Taken Seriously
I’m sick. I’m really sick. My sickness will always be here, and it’s not going away. I live in pain, but there’s really no way to manage it except for practice. My daily life is a struggle. People die from my illness. I’ve even almost died.
But my sickness isn’t taken seriously.
Just get over it. I hear that a lot. I would love to be able to just get over my sickness. I would love to find the magic pill to make all of this go away. But unfortunately with my sickness that’s not an option for me. Instead of the magic pill it’s multiple pills. And it’s not like being prescribed the right concoction on your first try either, no, it’s trial and error. Things get worse before they get better with these pills. You sometimes become sicker before getting healthy, and even when the pills do work, you can sometimes feel sedated. You can’t feel things the way you normally would, or experience things you used to enjoy. People sometimes see all the pill boxes, and if they don’t think you’re a “pill head,” they think you’re not trying because you’re taking medications for what your sickness is.
It doesn’t stop at just finding the right medication, because obviously that would just be too easy. I have to see a specialist. Currently I’m seeing one twice a week, and another every few weeks. They each tell me the same thing, and they aren’t the first specialists I’ve received help from. All of this is pretty disruptive to my life, and makes it difficult to do simple things like work a minimum wage job. I don’t know how I’ll react to pills, and often times the reaction isn’t good. It’s difficult to explain in a job interview that several days a week you will be unavailable to see a doctor, because when you tell an employer (or anyone really) what your doctor is for, they think you’re a joke. Sure, you can lie and say it’s just a doctor’s appointment, no specialty, but how long can you do that before they think you’re a lazy worker who’s full of shit?
I could do both these things to manage my illness. I could spend hours online researching why I’m sick, or buy expensive books to understand it better. I could spend days in support groups with people who are infected with the same sickness, or something similar, and talk about the hold my sickness has on me. I could sit down with my family and friends and explain what’s happening to me. But it wouldn’t make it any different. I still wouldn’t be taken seriously. Because it is all in my head.
I live with a mental illness (more than one, actually, but the diagnosis isn’t the point). It’s no secret, I’ve always been very forward and public with this. I’ve explained my illness to multiple people; family members, friends, colleagues, even strangers. I’ve explained how it makes me feel. Somehow, my sickness isn’t valid.
According to webmd.com, these are my symptoms, for one of my illnesses;
“-Euphoria or irritability
-Increased energy and activity
-Excessive talk; racing thoughts
-Unusual energy; less need for sleep
-Impulsiveness, a reckless pursuit of gratification (…)”
And with the same illness, I can also experience;
“-Depressed mood and low self-esteem
-Low energy levels and apathy
-Sadness, loneliness, helplessness, guilt
-Slow speech, fatigue, and poor coordination
–Insomnia or oversleeping
-Suicidal thoughts and feelings
-Lack of interest or pleasure in usual activities (…)”
I feel like this, no matter what. It’s either one list or the other, some days better than others, but no matter what is happening I feel like this. Today (for example) I related to the second list more. And that doesn’t make me just gloomy and emotional. I woke up today with an overwhelming sense of wanting to harm myself. I woke up today, next to my husband and one month old son, and wanted nothing more than to die. I went to sleep happy. I had a good day yesterday. But today I wanted to end my life.
My illness makes me want to end my life, and my illness has claimed the lives of others. People kill themselves because of my sickness. Yes, people do not take mental illness seriously.
I am sick. I will always be sick, I will always have this. I will learn to live with it. But I will not live with the stigma that is carried with a mental illness. I will fight the stigma that because it’s mental, that it’s all in my head. I will educate the masses, I will make sure my children grow up in a world where mental health is a priority, not an excuse. I will do my part to save as many people struggling with mental health as possible, while battling my own illness.
If nothing else sticks with you today, remember this. Living with a mental illness is not a choice.
If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
Follow this journey on Taylor’s site.