Mental Illness: Edification

Perhaps it’s mean-spirited, but I truly wish that everyone could suffer from mental illness. Well, for the most part, that statement isn’t entirely accurate, but there are days, or even single moments where I wholeheartedly wish for it. I’ve touched on this subject several times before, but I felt (for some reason or other) like it needed revisiting. Mental illness is, by and large, invisible. Sure, its effects can be as plain as day, but it’s not like jaundice or chicken pox. It gets even worse when its sufferer is intelligent, and capable of “maintaining” for some length of time. At least, believing that he (or she) is maintaining. It’s not always obvious what is wrong, and there are many people who are terrified of admitting that they suffer, for fear of retribution due to the stigma of mental irregularities. Sometimes I wish that I had never learned any coping mechanisms (effectiveness and results may vary), so that I could not force myself to hide behind the curtain of normality. For all the progress we have made in erasing the myths of mental illness, we are not so very far removed from the world in which my father lived (the father who suffers from a depression so severe that he could not bring himself to open the letter which I sent him, relying instead upon his brother, who was back for a visit from Japan).

I honestly believe that the only reason that what little progress has been made came only after Big Pharma realized that they could make a profit off of inner demons and melancholia. I remember, twenty years ago, when Prozac was the Next Big Thing. My family practitioner diagnosed me as “Manic Depressive” (yet more evidence of how old I am), and was eager (a little overly so, in my opinion) to get me going on this new class of crazy pills. As I was a minor at the time, and suffering from a contentious relationship with my mother, I am grateful that I had second thoughts. Can’t say why, but I felt this cold chill in the pit of my stomach at the very thought of those pills, and graciously declined (as graciously as any teenaged Caucasian male is able). A year later, I did decided to try Prozac (just one pill), and suffered immediately from auditory hallucinations and a sense of dread. A year after that, I gave Wellbutrin a try. When I was in the hospital, they taught us that depression is just rage turned inwards (psychologically- biologically it is something else entirely). Wellbutrin took my depression away, but left me with an overabundance of rage (directed in each and every direction).

It wasn’t until my hospitalization that someone decided to try Lithium. You know, the medicine prescribed for well over a century. The element. The drug off of which there is no money to be made. If I’d had the money back then, I might have been able to afford to stay on it. But, you see, it wasn’t the prescription which I could not afford, but the blood draws which were required to ensure that the levels in my system remained below toxicity. A few years later, I managed to get another prescription, but lost my insurance too soon to be able to continue. That was in 2004.

Since then, no matter where I’ve gone, or to whom I’ve spoken, I cannot seem to get the one thing which has ever been effective. Either I get brushed off all together, or the doctor insists on trying out all manner of medications which I know (with a growing level of experience) are only going to mess me up far more. No one seems to want to hear that Lithium actually works for me. Sure, I feel exhausted all the time (nothing out of the ordinary these days), and wrapped in a numbing insulation, but I also do feel safe from the pendulum’s swings. It also stifles my creative instincts, which would be unacceptable if the preponderance of my income came from writing, but is tolerable if I have to deal with other people. Not that it actually matters: there are no drug rep kickbacks for a freaking element.

So no wonder that so many people have turned towards self-medication. When you can’t get help from medical professionals, you look to squelch the pain in any manner you are able. Some turn to drink, other to pills, and others to any other number of substances. When the illness exists, for all intents and purposes, in one’s own head, it’s impossible to accurately convey the struggle to someone who doesn’t understand. And then are some people who have it easier than others, or have had better luck in dealing with their own private demons. Hell, I’ve been extremely fortunate myself, as I’ve been able to pass for “normal” for the majority of my life by merely accepting the mantle of “asshole.”

It had been my intention of seeking out medical help tomorrow, to enlist the aid of those who are able, to assist me in fighting my own particular demons. Don’t really see the point now. Everything repeats and falls victim to entropy, and there’s not much point in fighting it anymore. Exhaustion has set in, and apathy is ever-present. I’m just tired of fighting, you know? Better to just throw in my hat, and let everyone have their laugh. I guess I should have finished up Hiraeth, but it’s kind of epic where it’s at.

Thanks, everybody.

Don’t know where the night will take me, but if I see you all on the other side, so be it.

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