I have kept this post in my drafts for perhaps two months. My worry was that society is now making mental illness “cool” and “the kids of these days are weak, entitled brats.” I didn’t want what I have to say getting lost in the noise. I don’t want that pity that comes with speaking your truth about your struggles. I just need you to listen. For a change. Then let’s have a discussion.
The conclusion of my story is that even after overcoming this suicidal episode, another stormed in. This time I had a plan. I didn’t want to be rescued, I just wanted it to be over.
God/ Higher Power, of course, had other plans and an uncle of mine (such a beautiful soul), after a coffee date that had me in tears for an hour or more, told me we needed to check me into a psychiatric ward. I might tell you about it one day. Right now I’m still traumatized.
I was tired of life people. I’d wake up wanting to be dead. And that is where I will begin this handy guide of sh*t not to tell people on antidepressants.
Keep in mind as I write this, I’m UNDERSTANDING you MANAGE depression. More on that in a later post.
#1 You just have to think positive thoughts.
B*tch. I’d tried that. I had done that. I had Smiling Mind as a meditation guide. I am the among the most self-aware people you’ll come across. I was looking for ways to turn my dark thoughts into positive ones. I had prayed and fasted and even tried to exercise to lift my moods. That was before my mind said “what’s the point, you don’t want to be alive anyway.”
I had talked to people to try and help change my thoughts. I had been seeing a therapist for more than six months. And yet the oppression, the hopelessness, the hating every morning I woke up persisted.
Advise to non-experts: Shut up and listen. We’d tried this already.
#2 You just need to change your environment
There’s a phrase for that; running away from your problems. I see the logic in getting a fresh start somewhere like in the movies. But let me break it down for you why in my context it was not feasible, at least immediately.
For one, if you are a woman moving out on your own, getting rapped is something that’s at the top of your list of fears. As for someone it happened to in a room with someone I perceive to be my friend, I’m not keen to have a repeat, this time with strangers with a master key. Sure there are a tonne of women who haven’t had their houses broken into, but I NEED to move to an area I FEEL secure. My mind has the ability to take one negative thought and turn it into a series with eight seasons that has more horror than the Game of Thrones. It’s torture. And I hadn’t saved up enough to move into a place where I don’t end up obsessing when a drunk neighbor trips over my welcome doormat.
Secondly, the things that you are moving away from do not change just because you’re absent. In my context it would have meant cutting off the family entirely. I am not wired like that. So what I did instead was develop coping mechanisms and set boundaries, that way I don’t find myself dealing with a circus monkey that’s not mine.
Advise: Shut up and listen. Unless you’re a sponsor, because we’d thought of this already. The math wasn’t adding up. It is likely the case in another person’s context. How do I know this? They have a thinking brain like yours. And if you had their brain, you’d arrive at the same conclusion.
#3 Stop thinking too much
This is different from thinking positive thoughts because it is asking you to suspend thoughts that you cannot control in the first place. It is like using ‘not thinking too much’ to regulate your insulin production when you’re a diabetic, to stop a runny nose when you have a cold, or to eliminate the spread of cancer cells to other parts of the body.
You cannot say ‘mental illness’ and drop the ‘illness’ all together when you’re thinking or discussing the topic. It is a illness of the brain. The wiring was off and I seemed not to be producing enough dopamine and other happy hormones as a result of genetics and environment.
So please, don’t tell my ailing mind to stop thinking too much. At this point I’ve mentioned I had tried prayers, a shrink, exercise, and meditation. But the chatter in my mind would not stop.
Advise: Shut up and listen. You’re more helpful that way.
*There’s one ninja who told me to do yoga. I appreciate the advice but if I don’t wanna trade lives with you, I’ll pass on the advice.
And yes, I am roasting people along the way.
#4 You shouldn’t depend on meds to change your thinking
Here is where I ask people to produce their psychiatry degrees and masters. I understand that there’s a problem in the States and even here where doctors are more concerned about keeping you coming back than getting you better, but assuming that’s the case all the time is inaccurate.
I’d personally slap someone who came and took my meds and told me to get back to trying positive thinking. For the FIRST TIME in my LIFE I can be present without thinking a tonne of other thoughts at the same time. I can hear the birds, I can notice colors, I see people, I notice the road and constructions going on, I remember conversations… I am seeing, hearing and feeling. I had my first ulcer attack at 9 years old. Please. Don’t.
Before I wasn’t able to do all I’ve stated because ‘nobody’ was home. My body was on autopilot as my mind ran scripts on breakups, murders, loosing jobs, being raped, being attacked, being shamed, being arrested for something I didn’t do, all the sins I’ve committed, how my efforts are doing nothing to change my life, how I am 28 and still don’t know what my purpose etc. ALL THE DAMN TIME. Not to mention that all these fears made me do some dddduuuummmmbbbb stuff.
I have a fantastic psychiatrist who’s main aim, in his words, “is to keep you alive.” He asks the right questions and even adjusted dosages, reducing one and adding another because during the review I still sounded like I was just alive and not living.
Advise: Shut up and listen. Unless you’re a psychiatrist, and even then listening would help you arrive at the same conclusion.
#5 But you come from a good home, why are you stressed?
The idea that money = to less stress is exhausting. Let’s put that out there and if you’re still having an issue comprehending such factors let me help you. How many artists have died from a drug overdoes? Why do you think they were taking drugs in the first place? How many celebs have committed suicide? What about stories of middle and upper class families being in the media spotlight for gruesome murders or suicide? What about all of them that you hear are secretly in and out of hospital because they’re unwell and suffering. Let’s talk about the dead, what kind of chaos do they leave behind as children and spouses fight over the inheritance?
What makes you think people who are more well off than you don’t have problems? How entitled, selfish and judgmental are you to think that you and people like you have rights to the pain that the world dishes out? What, should the rest of us not complain because we use St. Ives body lotion and not Nice and Lovely? Because what we adorn our bodies with, what we feed it, and the kind of shelter it stays under is meant to erase emotional, psychological, and physical pain?
What’s worse is the people who ask me this question know NOTHING about what goes on in my life. The close friends that do understand and know why I was nearly an alcoholic at some point trying to cope with the pain I was going through and they support me. The rest of you, please lets not assume my life because my camera clothes are deceiving you that I go to Woolworths.
Advise: Shut up.
Yes, this is another post on your timeline about mental illness. But please note, I am tired of the ignorance. A lot of us are. We are in real pain because of this illness that we did not choose, so please, put some RESPEK on it.
PS: thanks for the images and gifs Google.
PPS: Please read a book. Or several. Before you talk. Thanks.