My husband, Que, came up with the name for this blog and it couldn’t be a more perfect description for what troubles I’m having with my illness right now.
So we’re living with my folks, neither of which really believe in mental illness. I’m adopted so neither of my adoptive parents have ever experienced or had experience with mental illness. The closest they’ve come to it is when my Papa (my mom’s dad) committed suicide when I was about four or five years old. But that just left my mom feeling bitter and angry. Anytime I try to talk to her about feeling suicidal she gets upset and lashes out at me for even suggesting that I could be capable of such a thing. Naturally, that’s not helpful. So I can’t talk to my mom whenever I’m down.
Not that I can talk to my mom when I’m having any sort of symptom either. Unfortunately, despite my attempts to educate her about my illness, she still seems to think that just “thinking happy thoughts” or “pushing through it” will solve all my problems. I can’t seem to explain to her how wrong she is. Not that thinking happy thoughts doesn’t help AT ALL. Not that trying to push through it doesn’t help AT ALL. It’s just not going to fix everything like a magic pill.
My dad, to my constant surprise, has actually been attempting to connect with me after these few months of us living with them. At first, he was severely resistant to the idea that his daughter had a debilitating mental illness that would probably be with her for the rest of her life. He fought it every time my husband or I tried to bring it up, trying to say I could be cured through the Gospel or if I would just go to church more often and prayed and read the scriptures that I would be miraculously healed.
But now, six months after moving in with them, he’s seen this up close and been told what’s happening. He’s seen that I’m not the same as I was when I was little. And I think he’s starting to hope that maybe the real me is still inside of me somewhere but is just covered up with this illness I’ve been talking about. Which is probably true.
Now, I’ve been diagnosed with Bipolar I although I’m probably closer to a Bipolar II with the limited amount of true mania I experience. But I, at least right now, have to deal with depression more often than I deal with mania. Sometimes I experience them together which is hard to deal with and even harder to explain to someone.
But the thing I hate about this is because my illness isn’t as visible as some other handicaps or problems people can have, people seem to want to ignore it or they just don’t see it at all. My parents constantly assume that my anxiety and bipolar symptoms are just me making stuff up in my head to get out of chores. Or something.
Every two steps I seem to get pushing them forward with understanding this, they take about ten steps backwards. Or at least that’s what it feels like.
Why is it so hard for everyone to understand that your brain can have an illness too? People accept cancer, they accept diabetes, they accept other illnesses that aren’t necessarily apparent but mental illness? Apparently that’s too hard to accept.
Why do people have a “I need to see proof,” or “I need to see it to believe it” attitude?
Just because it’s out of sight doesn’t mean it should be out of mind.