On Mental Health

The Permanence of Mental Illness

We are still in Limbo with Sweetie, trying to measure the “good days” versus the “bad days” which is tricky because she doesn’t really have “good days” but some days she seems better and I’m just not ready yet, y’all. She still hobbles and follows me around and asks for head scratches and sometimes I worry about the pain she’s in, but other times I just am selfish and need her here with me. So…there’s all that.

I’ve been thinking a lot about our approach to conflict as a politically divided country. I’ve been thinking about how those of us who make comments about politics – whether professionally as journalists, or personally as Facebook users – how we are constantly trying to prove our points by calling out hypocritical behavior on the other side. Let’s use the recent news about Hollywood predator Weinstein as an example: “Oh! You think Harvey Weinstein is bad but you were okay electing Donald Trump!?” or “Oh! You said Donald Trump was bad but you were okay accepting campaign funds from Harvey Weinstein?!”

And then what follows is the most pointless debating I’ve ever scene because you can not have rational conversations when you start by accusing someone of being a hypocrite. And I see it with everything. One side finds a way to call out the other side on their hypocrisy and the other sides defends their hypocrisy by showing the other side how they’ve been hypocritical and no one just pauses and says, “People and politics are complicated. Sometimes something bothers me from one person and not another person. I am not a robot. I am a human.”

I don’t know.

I’m tired y’all. I haven’t been sleeping well because of my restless dog and I’ve had this chronic cough for months now. (Pretty sure it’s post nasal drip which is gross.)

I’ve also been thinking a lot (and I’ve written about this before) about how hard it is NOT to think about mental illness like any other illness. You get a cold, you take a medicine, you get over it and you’re better. There’s an “end date” to most regular illness, you get better and then BAM! ALL DONE!

And two weeks ago I felt SO MUCH BETTER. But then all hell broke loose and I’ve not been sleeping well which isn’t great and I still can’t get my anxiety meds perfect and the last few days I’ve been wallowing again in thoughts about Sweetie and thoughts about conflict and resolution and love and I woke up this morning after minimal sleep and thought, “Ugg…I’m drowning again.”

I want to be able to write about mental illness in the PAST TENSE so badly, I want to be able to write about what fixed me, what helped me, what made me better. But mental illness is not like that, because hormone levels change and exhaustion levels change and emotional triggers change and sometimes NOTHING changes but your brain and it’s shitty chemistry figures out a way to get AROUND the medicines you started taking to find it’s way to being shitty again.

But it is really hard to not look at that as failure.

I know the majority of my problem is sleep-related. When I get tired my emotional stability is the first to go. But I’m also struggling with how to navigate some personal conflicts in my life and I am also not ready to say “goodbye” to my dying dog and I’m also stress-eating which makes me feel gross and I kinda just need a re-set and a do-over.

And I need US politics to stabilize. Every day I just can’t figure out how to deal with even our President’s Twitter feed. That stupid platform causes me anxiety because I just can’t believe we’re at a point in politics where no one who supports him can explain to him the harm he’s doing with how he uses Twitter and how a lot of the time he sounds like a fascist dictator instead of the President of a free country. And you can’t avoid it because NPR actually says, “The President responded on twitter by saying…” and quotes his tweets in news stories.

It’s just too much some days. And mental illness is chronic, something you always have to deal with, and that makes me totally depressed.

I finished John Green’s new book last night and the main character struggles with anxiety and compulsion disorders and the “constant” presence of her mental illness makes her weary and frustrated and I just related to that so deeply. My anxiety manifest differently than hers, and my triggers are nothing like hers, but the exhaustion of dealing with the thought spirals and then concern over how that affects your future…it’s all too much sometimes. And as much as I want someone to tell me, “Once you find the right meds and the right lifestyle choices your brain will quit trying to sabotage you!” I know that’s not true and I get overwhelmed sometimes at the perpetual nature of the struggle.

HOLY SHIT, Y’ALL. That’s even more depressing than, “Hey! How do I decide when to kill my dog?” from Monday.

I’ll end this on a happy note. My kid living here in this town is the most amazing thing. He’s come over for dinner/laundry a few nights (his new apartment doesn’t have a washer/dryer) and he’s needed me to pick up stuff from his office for him and we are just involved in each other’s lives in a much different capacity than we have been in YEARS and it’s SO WONDERFUL. I never considered he would find such a perfect job in my small’ish Alabama city, but he did and we are so in love with having him here. I’m going to drop of John Green’s book at his apartment tonight so he can read it before we head to Nashville next week to see Hank and John in person.

That’s better. We’ll end this misery on the abundance of joy I have in my life now that all three kids live in the same city.

My heart is full, even when it is broken.

5 thoughts on “The Permanence of Mental Illness”

  1. Wanted you to know we are out here…people who hear you and can relate. This weekend I cried in my closet, in the van in the garage, in the basement…just felt really unraveled. Today is a little different–not much granted, but different.
    This too shall pass. This too shall pass.
    (and probably return….)
    This too shall pass.

  2. OMG. I am so excited for you to go to the Hank and John tour with E.

    And, yes, I totally relate on the anxiety coming and going and then coming again inevitably. You expressed that beautifully.

  3. I missed that your baby came home (ish) . That is fantastic . I hope he loves his job and you guys are able to have the right healthy balance of family time and independence!

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