I spent sixteen years in abject silence over a secret which I kept. The sad fact is that it really wasn’t a secret. I just treated the fact with a silence; I would not share my secret willingly. I would not bring it up in conversation, though the opening was wide many times. I do not know if I would continue to keep this secret, under different circumstances. But my family fully impressed upon me how important it was to keep silent on the matter of my brain. They assured me that it would be used as ammunition for getting rid of me, since I had a malfunctioning brain: A DSM-IV diagnosis. Looking back, I think the weight of silence on this matter became heavier and heavier. I had already taken medical leave. Some fellow workers visited me in the mental ward of the hospital. But there was some magic about not SAYING what was wrong with me. I thought it would protect me from all manner of bad happenings in the workplace. Now I wonder if it would have been easier to be more open about my need, for instance, for lorezepam at noon daily. I know no one can understand another’s plight fully. But I kept mine fully hidden. I surprised my coworkers and my boss when I said I was resigning. Internally, I felt isolated, hated, misunderstood— partially because I never shared my feelings, or my needs. I really regret the way things went, lately I have been regretting how I’m doing things; looking back often and thinking a better course was available. I don’t think people really move on from big events that happen in their life. I know I will always remember with pain, the time of resignation from my job, of some thirteen years. All that really makes it better is time that has since passed, from my resignation. And that time has been rich with fervent effort to do right. To be productive in the best ways I know how. And to love my husband, and my family with every last ounce.
Naturlich! Herr, Frau
Nature (found, felt)
Anyone (who berates
Their mind’s up so
horrible acts of violence
because of the inner turmoil
at least partly
I wrote a short story about mental illness, a while ago. But I wrote around the truth. Because for me to write about mental illness is to put but a grain of sand onto a beach full of definitions, experiences, and ramifications.
What is my true feeling? Beyond just mentioning statistics? Truly I do feel there is a stigma about that monstrous, ungainly beach of sand. A stigma whose undercurrents cry, “Thank God I’m normal!” This is heard from those not plagued with chemical imbalance. Because the imbalance is so much more than chemical. It’s made from nature, nurture, and the society in which we live.
And as complicated as people are, there is no understanding for those that err in whatever egregious or minor way. So families help. Support of any kind helps. Acceptance, if not understanding, helps. Keeping on medication helps. Having a therapist; even a psychiatrist, helps.
I say let’s try less to quarantine that beach of pains and misunderstandings.
“Chin up, all! WE can surmount this!”
I skirt around the cusp of speaking more intimately of mental illness. I’ve learned 48% of humans will experience it, or bouts of it, in a recent TED x video on mental health and well-being. Numbers do not unfortunately breed societal acceptance. Losing friends, jobs; all can be dire results of “opening up” about problems like anxiety. The lack of peer, even familial, understanding can break a person who is experiencing the pain of mental illness.
Oh, to project an image of wellness! When underneath the human system fights to function “normally”.
And still I skirt. I feel that naming the beast may not necessarily tame it; on the contrary, it will make it even more dangerous.