May is Mental Health Awareness Month and I am Mentally Ill

Have you ever started getting ready to go somewhere: showered, gotten dressed, done your hair, and if applicable, your make up, all the while drinking Pepsi, then water, then a glass of wine, to keep yourself going only to get to the last part… putting on shoes, and found the whole thing too exhaustive and gotten into bed instead? That’s why I own lots of slip on shoes and shoes that don’t need socks. There have been times in my life when the very thought of having to put on shoes and socks was all too much for me and would I would undress and climb into bed instead of dealing with that final hurdle.

May is mental health awareness month.  This month some, but not all I promise, of my posts will focus on how I live with my mental illness. Medically speaking I have depression and with anxiety but I affectingly call it “my crazy.” My crazy makes living with my brain like living with the world’s worst roommate.

My crazy is mean. It tells me I am stupid. It tells me repeatedly that my friends don’t like me, that they all pity me and that is why they are nice to me. My crazy is a pansy. It makes me afraid to do even a simple task like ordering a pizza. A long line at a place with a complicated menu is torture. My crazy makes me think I am going to screw up my order and annoy everyone around me. Now imagine what it is like for me to go out and have unscripted social interactions. It’s HELL when my crazy takes over. I can only plan for so many conversations; I’ll always have to talk to someone I didn’t rehearse a conversation with and my crazy does not like that. My crazy is messy and doesn’t care. Putting clothes away at the end of the day, no way, my crazy thinks that is too hard and then hardly notices the mess on the floor. Even if my crazy did pay attention to the mess, cleaning it up is WAY too much work. My crazy does not make sense.

I am not saying all these things as excuses. I say them as an explanation. The work it takes me to do normal everyday things is at least double what it takes someone who doesn’t have a bitch living in her head.

The good news is that thanks to some great medication my crazy is significantly quieter these days. Add in years of therapy and most of the time I can shut up my crazy even when it does start to act up. But not always. When you have depression and anxiety like I do, every single day is a battle to fight. I have to take my meds, remind myself of the things I learned in therapy in case something that day is stronger than the meds, and put my emergency anti-anxiety medication in my purse. Those anti-anxiety meds are a last resort. I know they will stop my ability to feel the crazy but they also shut down my ability to feel anything.

People who spend enough time with me know that I am not shy in talking about my crazy. The truth is, I have become friends with it. I know exactly what it will do and most of the time I know how to shut it down. It’s an imperfect system but it’s my reality and I don’t have the energy to fight reality.

So, why am I telling you all this? Simply because I want you to know that I believe everyone has a crazy. There is no one out there who isn’t fighting some kind of battle. As cliché as that sounds, maybe next time you wonder “why does she seem so needy?” or “why can’t he just get over it?” think to yourself  “I bet her crazy is telling her I’m ignoring her on purpose” or  “I bet his crazy is holding on to this even though he would much rather let go.”  And especially remember that when dealing with me.

Over the next few weeks I will give you more of an idea of what it is like to live with my crazy, how I got to know it, and other thoughts I have mental illness. This is already the most personal post I have ever written and my crazy would prefer I not publish it least any of you judge me or think less of me because of it. But if at some time this month, my story can help even one person decide to get help, or better understand someone they know then all my discomfort will be worth it.

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