The Part of My Mental Illness That's Really Hard to Talk About
I’ve always been open about my mental illness; and I know that’s not a common thing. I’ve made public statuses, blog posts, and announcements. I think I told my entire friend group about my suicide attempt in high school right after I got out of the hospital, as if I was talking about college orientation. I’m an open person; it’s more of a curse than a blessing, in my opinion, but that’s who I am.
Still as open as I am about my mental health and the baggage that comes along with it, there’s one part of my illness I keep silent about: the long term.
I try the best I can to not focus on the long-term of my mental illness, simply because it terrifies me thinking one day I might be an 80-year-old woman with manic rage, severe depression, and still struggling with suicidal thoughts. I terrifies me that there’s a chance I could live a long time and still deal with this.
There are times I think it will go away, but that’s not how this works. I’m not going to wake up some day and be “cured” of my diagnosis. I’m always going to have to work hard to keep a balance in my head. I’m going to have to check my mania and make sure I’m not practicing harmful behaviors. I’m always going to need to monitor my drinking in fear that I could have one drink too many and slip into an episode. I will have to make sure I leave my house enough to not be depressed. And I’m most likely going to need intensive care if/when suicidal thoughts occur. I am still in my early 20s right now, and the thought of surviving my 20s is already an overwhelming thought. I’m at a place where I constantly compare myself to my peers, and it’s so damaging to my mental health. What if I’m not an established woman by 30? What if by 40 I still don’t own a house? Will I be driving by 50? Will I even make it to 60?
Thinking long-term can be a scary thought for me. Knowing I’ll have to live with my diagnosis makes me angry; it feels unfair. I didn’t do anything to “deserve this.” It’s not my fault I have a mental condition. Why is this my life?
Mental illness can be a hard pill to swallow. It takes a lot of time to grasp that this will always be my life. But I have hope that I’ll find the right way to treat my mental illness and will find balance in years to come.
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Thinkstock photo by Transfuchsian