Mental Illness – Personal or Societal Issue?

Do you ever stop to wonder if the exploding rates of mental illness might signify that there isn’t a personal issue going on with many people, but instead, a societal or lifestyle issue? The pandemic has shown without a doubt that outside influences can make huge differences in collective mental health. The isolation, the fear of the virus, the missing out on all the things you love to do – these affected us hugely in the past couple years.

Even before the pandemic though, mental illness had been a steadily growing problem. Most of the time the medical establishment treats it all as a personal issue. You must have a chemical imbalance, a mood disorder, or you are doing things wrong and somehow causing your own problems. But what if WE aren’t causing the problem? What if the system is?

In our world, people have become increasingly isolated and lonely, way before the pandemic started. The internet has brought some great things, but it has also made it so that we rely less on real, local community. We were made to be tribal, group animals, but many of us have lost our tribe long ago. Even when we try to build a sense of community, I feel like many of us have no idea how to go about doing that in our disconnected, busy, hustle culture.

We also live in a world where many people are forced to work ridiculous hours at jobs they hate just to survive. And then they barely survive at that. They are swimming in debt and praying nothing major goes wrong between paychecks. Corporations are treated better and are often given more rights than us. We are told to consume and we will feel better, but that only leads to emptiness and more debt.

If you happen to be disabled, like me, you are often made to feel like you are a drain on society and are weak and useless. Depending on the disability, you can become even more isolated and lonely. Many of us have few close family ties to begin with, and frequently, family members and friends eventually end up moving away from each other so they can get a good job and survive.

And don’t even get me started on the corruption, genocide, and other downright criminal activity the government leeches off us to support. Or how we are out of touch with the natural world around us, and even worse, destroying it at a rapid rate.

Maybe it isn’t you. Maybe it isn’t me. Maybe it is all of us, and maybe it is time we make some huge changes.

Struggling to Blog – Depression or something more?

Lately I’ve really been struggling to blog. I don’t feel enthusiastic or motivated about it. I’m not sure if I’m feeling burnout or what is going on. Have you ever gone through this as a blogger? If so, what did you do? Did you force yourself to keep to your blogging schedule anyway and just trudge through it? Did you take a little vacation? Find some outside way to motivate yourself?

I don’t think it is simply coincidence that this feeling has come at a time that I have been fighting off a deep depression, but I’m not sure if that is all of it. To be fair, it has been hard to motivate myself to do much of anything lately, but writing seems especially tedious right now, and I feel like I have nothing of value to say anyway 😦

DEPRESSION CYCLE AGAIN

I’m really struggling with depression right now and have been for at least a few days. I honestly can’t remember exactly how long it has been because when I’m this depressed, days just run into one another and I don’t even have the motivation or desire to keep track.

I struggle to make myself do anything, but I try. I force myself to do my household chores, force myself to stick to my social media/blogging schedule, and even made myself get out and do things I normally enjoy, hoping it would help, but unfortunately, it hasn’t.

Right now I feel like I don’t care about anything, and I HATE that feeling, because I normally care so much. I really hate having depression/mood disorder/bipolar type 2 – whatever you want to call it. I wish I could just blink out of existence for a while and come back in a better frame of mind. If I was a drug/alcohol kind of girl, I would probably be turning to that for escape, but I guess it is lucky I’m not into that stuff.

My only consolation is knowing that at some point, it will pass, even if it feels right now like it won’t.

Stressful and Emotional Week

This has been a stressful and emotional week. My husband and I had marriage counseling early in the week, which is helpful, but always makes me emotional and kind of depressed (depressed because we even need marriage counseling in the first place). Then my husband started a 12 step support group to work on some of the acting out behaviors he struggles with. I’m glad he started the group, I think it will be good for him and he could use the friendship and accountability partners, but I was also kind of bummed because his support group gets to meet in person and I desperately wish I could find a support group for me that meets in person.

I feel like I’m dying for that face to face interaction, but the only support groups I could find for me only meet online for right now and it looks like it will be that way until at least September because of the rules of the church where they normally met before Covid. I’m still going to try to be a part of it, but it just isn’t the same. Part of me is jealous that my husband gets that in-person attention and I can’t.

On top of that, my husband and I had a fight yesterday (or more accurately, I had an emotional meltdown and he sort of closed up, not knowing how to respond). The argument was about the trip we are taking to Buffalo, NY next week and about him making plans for it that I didn’t agree to and wouldn’t like so that he could visit an old friend. More than anything, I was just upset that I felt like he didn’t even think about how any of it would affect me or make the trip harder for me.

I’m feeling like an emotional wreck.

My Uncle Passed Away

My uncle did pass away, so tomorrow we are heading for Indiana for the viewing, and then the funeral is on Saturday, at the church he pastored for many years. Feeling sad about it all. I’ve glad he isn’t in pain and won’t suffer anymore, but I’ll miss him. The whole week has felt rather dark and overshadowed by the loss, so my mental health has been struggling a bit. I’m trying to make sure to do fun things and fill my life with activity so I don’t get pulled down too far into a depression, but it has been rough.

When you have experienced times of loss and grief, how do you cope? Do you have any specific suggestions that help you keep a positive frame of mind through the sadness? I am allowing myself to feel the sadness, but I don’t want to get swept away by it too much and end up in a dark depression, as that has definitely happened in the past when I experienced the loss of loved ones.

Transparent vs Whiny

This morning I woke up thinking about my online reputation and what I would like it to be. When others read my poetry and personal blog posts (especially the ones having to do with mental illness, autism, or chronic pain/chronic illness) the things I strive to represent are honesty, openness, relatable vulnerability, realistic hope when possible, comforting solidarity, the healing power of sharing our pain, and the courage and inspiration to keep going, even when things feel hopeless.

However, since I myself struggle from mental illness and chronic pain, being transparent and honest means that often my viewpoint comes across as dark and bleak. I don’t try to hide that or tone it down when it happens, because to me, that is part of being honest and vulnerable enough to share what the experience of dealing with those issues is like on a daily basis. Putting a happy face on it would be lying.

My only worry is that sometimes the reality of dealing with daily mental and physical pain is that you can start to sound whiny. Part of me says, “well, of course, you are going to sound whiny now and then if you are in pain all the time! No shit!”, but for some reason our culture makes whining out to be such a negative thing that most of us want to avoid that look at all costs.

Maybe we as readers and audiences have to decide rather we really want full honesty and openness (even if it includes some whining and negativity) or if we pretend to want the truth, but in reality just want a short, scrubbed clean, feel good version of life. I know which I prefer, but I guess everyone has to decide for themselves.

Dragging Myself through Christmas

2 days until Christmas, and I don’t think I could feel less festive if I tried. I’m dragging myself through each day, not really wanting to get out of bed or do anything. I’ve tried to break the depressive funk by making myself go to a couple holiday events in the past week, but the deep sadness I feel will not be pushed away or covered for long.

I’m still dealing with a lot of hurt from recent events with my husband, and while we are working on healing and doing therapy, the wounds are deep, especially for a heart like mine that struggles to trust so much in the first place due to a long history of trauma and abuse. Sometimes I despair that I’ll never be able to truly trust again.

My heart aches. My body and mind are worn out. I feel little hope. I wish I could report better things.

Life Update – Health, Exciting News!

It’s been a minute since I just did a life update, so let’s take a minute to do so! I’ll break it up into categories for ease:

Physical health – Thank God, the Topamax increase seems to have helped the migraines quite a bit. They aren’t gone entirely, but have been much better lately. Still having some digestive issues, so I’m seeing the GI doctor soon. We suspect Gastroparesis or some other motility disorder might be at play. I’ve already been following a gastroparesis diet and it has been helping my symptoms, but we won’t know till I get a test obviously. That condition is really common with Ehlers Danlos though.

Mental health – Uh, all over the place. Anxiety like crazy. Kinda hyper. Hard to concentrate and focus…that one has been a real pain lately. Even getting stuff like this done isn’t easy. My brain wants to go in fifty million directions, none of them what they are supposed to be doing. Depression too, but kind of medium level. Like just the blahs. Apathetic. Need constant positive stimuli to not start feeling blah again, but that isn’t reality, is it?

My writing – Finally, some good news!!! First off, I was contacted by a music professor at Central Washington University in Washington state who wants to use one of my poems to set to music for a project she and her colleagues and a few students are working on. They will compose music for the poem (for instrument and voice) and then put together a concert music video for it (because covid and all I assume) and it will be released in April. Of course, I will be credited for my part in the project, and will share the video when I can.

Also, I just got an email today that the educational resources website Twinkl has chosen my blog to be one of their Top Autism Blogs of 2020! They get pretty high traffic on their site, so it is quite an honor and I’m psyched about it!