An Important Note for those I love. (Facebook Note Aug. 10, 2014)

This is a Facebook Note from August 10, 2014

 

I hate to break it to you,  but I am living with a serious, debilitating, and possibly fatal illness.  While there are treatments, with different levels of efficacy, there is no cure, nor is there likely to be one for Bipolar Disorder within our lifetime.

You are probably aware that I have not been using an pharmacological treatment for this illness for about 10 months or so .Some of you have mentioned, how well I have been doing, and my skills at mitigating some of the effects of my illness.   What I would like  you to know, is that my illness has not been mitigated these long months at all.  I still suffer from the effects of Bipolar Disorder, not daily, but moment to moment.  When I seem “well”  that is not because I am not experiencing symptoms of this mental illness.

What appears as “stability” is nothing of the sort.  I am not stable, and have not been for months.   These moments of calmness and lucidity come with great effort on my part.  It is not an affectation, but it is not  a state that happens organically.  Any calmness, lucidity, clarity of thought, etc, comes as a result of work i have been doing that you have not, and cannot see, for it is internal.

I need you to know, that these periods also have to be maintained by a great deal of effort.  Sometimes, I am simply not strong enough to sustain it, and I will have periods of moodiness, or as has been often lately, quick, explosive irritibility.  For that unpleasantness I apologize.  I do not want to hurt any of you, but be assured I am doing my best, even when my best is pretty goddamned awful and pathetic. Your happiness is very important to me, and I would lovingly do anything within my power to increase it.  However that being said, your happiness is NOT my RESPONSIBILITY.   Nor is mine yours.   There will be times that I will fail to be able to do things that may lead to your happiness, and I regret that, but please understand, that I do not have the intention to willfully do things that decrease it.   If that does occur, I ask you to please let me know kindly and compassionately, so that I may correct such things.  While it is my responsibilty to make those corrections, help doing so would be appreciated.

I would like you all to know, that I love you, however, I ask for your understanding about the seriousness of my mental illness, and be mindful of the effort and work I am doing to live with it at this point in time.

August 10, 02014 The Craic House Modesto, CA (The people tagged in this note, are those that I feel are most impacted by my illness, but this note is for everyone in my life, from partners, lovers, to the most casual acquaintance, new friends, and even potential friends whom I have not yet met.)

The plan going forward

I have been writing about my life, my struggles, and triumphs for quite some time.  First on Livejournal, and for the past few years Facebook.  I had a recent event in my life (stay tuned, true-believers!) that I began documenting on Facebook, only to find that many of the people that I wanted to relate my story to, did not use Facebook for a variety of reasons, and even though the posts were “public”  they are hidden from anyone who does not have a Facebook account.

So, I made the choice to have a public-facing blog where I talked about the mental health aspects of my life. I am sure other areas will creep in, (bisexual! atheist! pet-owner! Jedi Knerd!) but my mental illness will be the main thrust of this blog for the forseeable future.

I will begin with some older work, saved here and there,  then I plan to write about a recent crisis where I was hospitalized, and the issues that brings up.  Once that is done, then I will probably begin to post less-frequently about events and thoughts as they occur to me.

Thank you for reading this, it is my sincere hope that I will illuminate, inform, and at times incense in a way that is entertaining and engaging.

Out of the Padded Closet

Lets get first things first. I am mentally ill, and I am not ashamed of being so.

 

Some would find the above statement surprising, and I feel that is a problem.  Mental illness has a stigma attached to it, and like most stigmas it is based on misinformation, or at times the lack of accurate information.  I hope this blog will address that, in it’s small way.

 

At the age of 15 I was diagnosed as what at the time was called Manic-Depression.  Today, my diagnosis is Bipolar I.   Because of the the severity of my illness, it has always been very difficult for me to remain gainfully employed in any kind of job with a strict schedule.  After many years of honest effort and being consistently fired due to missing work due to depression, sometimes as long as after a couple years, sometimes in as little as a couple weeks. my psychiatrist suggested that I apply for Social Security Disability, which was successful.

Shortly after that, I was outside the San Joaquin County Courthouse (also the site of a job I was fired from after a couple weeks) with my girlfriend, and was introduced to a friend of hers.   As is customary in American culture, as a way of getting to know me, this person asked me, “So, what do you do?” meaning what my profession was.  I told him that I was actually on disability.  Then, the following exchange took place.

“Why are you on disability? you look fine!”

“I have bipolar disorder.”

“Gosh, I wish I had bipolar, so I did not have to work!”

I was caught flat-footed that something so ignorant would be said in my presence.   This was almost 20 years ago, and it still stings in the retelling.   But that was the moment that crystallized it for me.  Later that night, I decided I would never treat my illness as something shameful, something that had to be hidden.  That this would be my way of combating the stigma, and that I would be articulate in describing what living with mental illness is like.

Not everyone has made the same choice I have.  Some people feel that they cannot be open about having a mental illness, they are in what I call “the padded closet”.  While my illness does not define me, or even makes up the entirety of who I am, it does color everything that I do.  I cannot escape being ill, but I should not have to hide my illness due to those around me, mostly strangers are uncomfortable with this aspect of who I am.

I am out.  I am mentally ill.  I am not ashamed.  I want you to join me.