a journal of one person with manic-depressive illness

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Chemical Shame

I know this isn't a very en vogue point of view, but I love pharmaceuticals. I don't always love how much they cost me, or the many side effects, but they are nothing short of miraculous. The only thing pharmaceuticals cannot fix, is the inevitable shame of my mental illness.

The hard part is admitting that I need them. Well, actually, it's much harder dealing with the alienating expressions of those who don't appreciate mental illness. To many, being mentally ill is a stain on all aspects of a persons character, and even personality. All of a sudden, you go from being an expressive, pleasant, employable human being, to a mysterious and scary character.

But at times, even to myself, my illness can be scary and mysterious. Manic episodes are like an out-of-body experience, much like experiencing the life of a character in a book. It's boggling to the mind of those who experience suicidal thoughts, because we can look back on those moments and see the delusion with such clarity that it's difficult to explain even to ourselves how our mind reached such a critical point. It's difficult to admit because we can't explain the phenomenon in technical terms to those who really want to understand the illness, the only explanation within my reach is how I felt-which has never been considered empirical. This is not an easy sell to the average person trying to accept your condition as a bona fide illness, "just get up out of bed, then! What's the problem?"

In this regard, it's more simple to be a diabetic or a cancer patient because there are labs, cancer cells, insulin shock, and many other physical ramifications of these illnesses that make the psychology of acceptance much easier. There are letters of condolence, and faithful tears at the funeral of one who died from cancer. When someone dies of suicide, they are typically branded as hellbound sinners who were selfish and ungrateful. A shadow is cast on the family name as they struggle to regain the peace of mind that was lost in that fateful moment.

Much more, it's difficult to measure your spiritual well-being when faced with chronic mood problems. Inspiration and peace are like a goldmine to the chemically-depressed. Isolation, fear and distrust are commonly attributed to the spiritually-lost. Chemical fear obstructs the faith that you cling to with every fiber of your being, even if it is a small mite of spirituality, you never take it for granted. It becomes a battle of the will, much like the olympian who faces physical limitations in contrast to the imaginations of their mind. Sometimes there is triumph, and sadly, statistics highlight the tragic losses of those whose physical limitations could not match their spiritual aspirations.

I harbor shame in my heart. These episodes are difficult to explain to myself, much less the observing eye and ear. The most difficult symptom of this illness is the fear you see in the eyes of your children when you cry uncontrollably. The dissappointment of a loving husband who desires above everything else, your happiness. But every now and then, there is a shining light that warms my soul. I know God hears and answers my many prayers that have been offered in my darkest moments.

No comments:

Post a Comment