“I pledge my commitment to the Blog for Mental Health 2014 Project. I will blog about mental health topics not only for myself, but for others. By displaying this badge, I show my pride, dedication, and acceptance for mental health. I use this to promote mental health education in the struggle to erase stigma.”
As I was going through post from Ten Things of Thankful, I seen this beautiful colored rainbow picture on the sidebar of someone’s blog. I wish I could remember who, but I have been back and forth between social networks and totally forgot. Then, reading what the art said, I clicked on it and it brought me to the Blog for Mental Health 2014 Project.
I have so much going on that I haven’t been able to keep up with both blogs, Twitter, Google + communities, and haven’t tried Facebook, the games will drag me in. I do have to say, I live in a small town with the population of about 400. I’m in southwest Virginia right at the edge of TN. and N.C. and the Appalachians. I try not to put a lot of public things on Facebook because I see a lot of them same people in day to day life. Life in a small town can be great and it can be terrible. If I forget what I’m doing though, someone will tell me what I’ve done and am doing. I have always said, by the time I get done using the restroom, a neighbor will be calling to remind me to flush and wash my hands, and they’ll know if I’m out of soap too.
With this being said, I don’t mind sharing my mental health diagnosis and I don’t mind sharing my addiction problems. I have two beautiful daughters, ages 11 and 8, and I try to be as honest with them as I can for their age. If what I’ve experienced in my 37 years of living can help one person then I’ve done something worthwhile. So, I will start at the beginning of when I noticed things a little off with myself.
1st, I have OCD. A lot of people don’t understand this exactly, and it can be humorous at times. Not for everyone, but for me. Thankfully this diagnosis hasn’t ruled my life in a way that is destructive. Since I can remember, my favorite number since childhood has always been 3. I count everything to 3, from locking the door, to setting the clock, to rinsing my mouth when I brush my teeth. I do like things in a certain order which isn’t to say I’m a neat freak. I don’t have to have everything clean but I do like things in a certain order that make sense to me and if someone is staying with me, like now my best friend has been staying for a couple weeks, then, yes, if she done my laundry, it would ruin my day. I’m on medication that helps now and I actually sometimes haven’t checked the door and to me that’s a big step.
Around age 12, I began having anxiety attacks. Usually in school is where they would occur or around a large group of people. I blew it off for years though because I was certain most teenagers felt the way I felt when being called up to the front of the class for a book report. I would feel sweaty out of nowhere, began to feel too hot, which usually led to feeling as if everyone was staring at me and it didn’t matter how large the room was, I began to feel trapped. Then I would feel light-headed, dizzy, and my breathing would be too rapid. As my breathing excelled, I felt as if a huge elephant was standing on my chest. I finally had this happen so much that by age 16, I realized this wasn’t normal because I scared myself into thinking I was having a heart attack. Even now on medication and almost always I can feel an attack coming on, I still have found myself in line at Wal-mart, buggy full, and the panic began. I have had people be in front of me in line and then a couple people get in line behind me to where I felt trapped, and I’ve walked out of the store, leaving my buggy in between the people. Of course, there are things that go on in my everyday life that can be stressful, but a lot of times, nothing triggers these attacks. They happen out of the blue for no reason at all. I have had psychologist recommend breathing therapy and I have found that along with medication, yoga and meditating help tremendously.
Last but not least at all, I am bipolar. In fact, a lot of people think that everyone with bipolar disorder feel the same. For example: people expect me to have highs that last where I have energy and go on shopping sprees or have unprotected sex with a lot of men, then have a huge low to where I’m suicidal. This isn’t the case for me. I have bipolar 2. I don’t usually have a huge high or mania that last where I have big burst of energy. I have lows, and then huge lows. I can be depressed for weeks on end to where I can’t get out of bed, don’t want to leave the house, don’t want to speak to anyone, and don’t want to function. It isn’t as simple as forcing myself out of these moments, or getting out of the house will cheer me up. I truly cannot stand when people dismiss this and flippantly say, “Why don’t you go for a walk with me and you will feel better.” Then when I decline, they look disgusted as if I’m choosing to be depressed. I recently was finally put on medication that helps but I’m struggling with the correct dose. My doctor is working with me about this. It’s hard to diagnose someone who 1st of all doesn’t want to be diagnosed, and second has had a history of addiction. I’m seeing an addiction doctor along with my family doctor and so far everything seems to be okay. Okay is about all I’m able to do at the moment. Which is better than not okay.
So, I’m glad I stumbled across this pledge. This is my post and introduction to my reasons for wanting to participate. It is getting late where I live so I am signing off now. This blog has many different post in it and doesn’t stick to one particular theme. So, some days I may mention mental illness and some days I probably won’t. Not because I sit in silence with it but because having mental disorders doesn’t define who I am. I can answer questions for anyone who doesn’t understand what I go through, which isn’t to say that I go through anymore than anyone else. I can also answer questions about what works for me and what doesn’t and this also won’t mean it will work for everyone. This is my pledge for 2014.