Bell's Let's Talk Campaign letstalk.bell.ca/en/
landed in my inbox at work this morning (I work at the Ministry of Health so not entirely surprising
) and while I am not a Bell Customer, I want to open the floor to talk about mental health.
So if you're comfortable, you could answer the following (if not, just comment on whatever strikes you or read and wander away
1. Do you live with mental illness (either in yourself, your partner or another family member?) If so, which one(s)?
2. What sort of an impact does it have on your day to day life?
3. How do you manage it?/How does the person you live with manage it? How do you help?
4. What is one thing you want people to know about living with mental illness?
As many of you know, I live with Depression, Generalized Anxiety, Panic Disorder (currently and hopefully permanently in remission!) and Specific Phobia (needles). To add to the list of invisible illnesses, I have insomnia, chronic pain and chronic migraines. I live with my partner who has Borderline Personality Disorder, Generalized Anxiety, Panic Disorder and Depression. Even on our best days, this means that we tend to have low energy, never feel rested and rarely feel like we accomplished everything we want to in a day; and we try not to beat ourselves up over it (or bring each other down) because it feeds the cycle. I always feel like I should be able to do more and get mad at myself when I can't, which isn't healthy and is a habit that I am trying to break.
SpiritLullaby has in general done much better on medication than I have, in that it works for her for a time, even if it does stop or doses need to be adjusted. Despite that, there are still times when she cannot deal with people and has to leave due to the anxiety or the drain on the energy. While it helps, medication does not make things perfect (nor should we expect it to). Medication does not help me very much and often makes me feel physically ill on top of all of the other issues (I've been through at least 20 different pills in the past 10 years). I do use a light box which while not improving my mood, does make me feel more awake and able to concentrate at work. My work is very repetitive and I need every ounce of focus I can muster. I do take pills daily to prevent migraines and they work some of the time, but not nearly as often as I would like.
The thing that I would like people to know is that Anxiety and Depression are incredibly exhausting. When my anxiety is at it's worst or after one of us has a panic attack, the need to lie down and sleep (sleep rarely happens for me) is like a weight. Both the anxiety, the constant worry and the lethargy and self-depreciation that accompany these conditions take a toll on your energy, on your physical state (you feel every ache worse when you are in the down part of a cycle) and on your immune system. Without sleep, which heals the body as it restores energy, all of this only gets worse. I power through my days on will power and spite more often than I'd like. I try to plan for every eventuality to make sure I have the energy to do what needs doing and yet at least once a week I get off of work, look across the road at the grocery store (literally 200 metres away) and say "fuck that" and walk home and order pizza because tacking an extra half a kilometer (accounting for across the road, inside the grocery store and back tracking to go home) to my walk feels physically impossible. That's only one example of something I try to plan to have the energy for, feel I should have the energy for and frequently don't.
And I can't explain the budgeting of energy any better than that example. But Spoon Theory does (it's about Lupus but gods does it ever apply to chronic pain and depression!) and if you would all do me a favour and read it, perhaps those that do not have these experiences can begin to relate www.butyoudontlooksick.com/art…