Mental illness is a pervasive and tragic disease that acts like that big, mean, bully on the playground. You know they are there, you know the significance of them being there, you even can occasionally work around the whole mess and find a modicum of peace. But no matter how many times you look for that peace, mental illness (like that bully) is a fickle and quite rude snot that will only allow you seconds of true happiness.
There are many tragedies when it comes to mental illness. If you don’t know of these tragedies I do hope that you will share them with others because on pretty much a daily basis mine are there blinding me, deafening me, and cause me to fall down. Like most people I have good, both inside me and around me, but it doesn’t negate the fact that everyday I sit on those swings at the playground and pray that the bully doesn’t get me.
Bullies can be given numerous distinctions. They can come in many forms. In mental illness they can come in the form of rejection from those that were supposed to love you. It can come in the form of a doctor’s note explaining the myriad other problems that are disrupting your life because of the drugs you been taking so long. It can sit on your chest and prevent you from breathing. It can sit on your mind and prevent you from leaving. These mental illness bullies don’t have the shape of a human but rather the shape of the ethereal that plague those who suffer in ways the layman can’t know.
Lately I have noticed an incredible new issue with my mental illness. It took me awhile I will admit because my counter-action was so perfect; but like most things it too showed itself to me in technicolor. I have had to finally admit that for some reason within the last three months I have quit leaving my apartment unless I have no choice. This may not seem like a big deal, especially in this age of modern technology, but the consequences of not leaving my little world is greater than I could ever imagine. As for my counter-action, well it is sort of universal for those of us with mental illness, and it’s name is denial.
Like I said it took me awhile to realize that I wasn’t leaving my own home. I went to the requisite doctor’s appointments. I made sure that my children were doing okay; but I couldn’t find it within me even the slightest desire to leave my haven and breathe the fresh air.
I can tell you a few things about myself that has camouflaged this problem for so long: for instance, when I do go out I tend to go so out that my family is convinced that all is well. I talk to strangers. I laugh with children. I make jokes, smile and typically be the person that those who love me hope is really me. The ability to put on a new persona in order to face the world is one that I have honed over the life that I have led. I did it as a kid, I did it as a young woman, and I can do it now in my middle years. It’s a gift really as it provides a scene that everyone is happy to watch. Of course, it takes a rather large toll but that is a column for another day.
As I said earlier, I also continue to go to my doctor’s appointments like clockwork. This too camouflages so many wrongs; and not only for my family but for the doctors themselves. I can tell my doctor’s exactly what they want to hear. I can not precisely lie as much as prevaricate the truth to the point that each of those highly educated men and women have no idea who and what I truly am. It is counter intuitive to prevaricate in a doctor’s office but through the years I have found that this small action keeps people secure. The doctor’s believe they are really helping me and my love ones honestly believe that I am getting the help that I need. It’s a nifty trick.
There are other ways that I hide the problem, but as I am sure that you get the point, there is no need to belabor it to death.
But the real question in my mind is a simple one: if I am dogging those bullies does it matter where I am sitting each day? If I am going through the motions does anyone have a right to complain? If I can fool the world into believing that who I am is something completely different does that hurt this same world?
I like being alone. I like quiet. I like being in charge of when I eat, when I sleep, when I get dress. I like having control. Complete control that only comes when one is answering to no one but their own selves. I don’t want to explore relationships with girlfriends; very few have the time for me and very few are able to give me more than the peace of a quiet morning can. I feel guilty spending money. I feel embarrassed when my stomach takes a turn for the worse and I am stuck in a stranger’s bathroom for a period of time. I hate being the girl that everyone has to worry about. I hate having to lie about how much fun I am having. I hate being someone that everyone else wants me to be, when here in my quiet world I can bask in the loneliness and find that elusive tranquility.
Most people that have met me would argue that I am not an introvert. I would argue that had you been inside my head at the ages of five, ten, fifteen, twenty, thirty, etc. you would see that in fact I am very much an introvert. And while I can find the strength to go places for my children, I can’t find the reasons to go someone for me. I want to be left alone. I want the quiet. I want to know at the end of the day that everything is okay, because I choose not to be anyone’s definition of okay but my own. I want to be the loner. It’s like that ever present darkness, comforting.