No one wants to have a mental illness

face-of-mental-illness-2 Really?

Yesterday morning I awoke to a text message from my sister Sherry who also lives with bipolar disorder. She wrote, “I hate bipolar illness.” It didn’t take long for my wheels to start to turn.  Of course you hate this illness.  I hate bipolar too.  I don’t like how it interrupted my life and made my path much more difficult. But I know I can only entertain those thoughts of dread for a little while. If I spend too much time hating bipolar and the fact I have it, I lose out on life.

The fact is no one wants to have a mental illness. It’s hard to come to terms with when we get an initial diagnosis. It’s even harder for loved ones to watch as people destroy their lives because they refuse treatment. I’ve walked in those shoes, so it’s not a judgement simply an acknowledgment of what can happen.

I’m standing on the side line right now watching a young man blow up his life because of his refusal to accept his diagnosis. He’s manic and psychotic. At only 27 years old he’s burning through friends like an out of control forest fire. Soon, he’ll be all on his own to one day, hopefully, pick up the pieces of what is left of his life. I hope that’s soon for his sake.

I’ve spent a great deal of time learning about bipolar disorder and quite frankly other mental illnesses. One the reasons people don’t get help is because no one wants to have a mental illness. I said that once, right? Well, when I was diagnosed with a mental illness it felt like a personal failing. It was as if somehow I had brought it all on myself. There wasn’t much compassion or understanding or anyone who I knew to turn to with questions. I was all alone in my struggle.

Because I felt like it was a personal failing I kept denying it existed. Eventually I did get treatment, but it took a long time to find the right treatment regimen. It was even longer before I learned the necessary lifestyle changes I was going to have to make. On average, it takes 8-10 years from the initial diagnosis before someone gets the proper treatment and that’s if she ever does.

Startling. Right? How can anyone jump right in and accept she has a mental illness, follow a flawed treatment regimen and trust health care providers who too often don’t know jack about what they are treating.

It can get really dark and toxic pretty quick. This is why I only allow myself to entertain the dark side from time to time. I am human, unfortunately. Ha.

The bottom line for this post today is to say no one wants to have a mental illness. But constantly focusing on all the negative things about it are counter productive. Of course I hate my illness. But to be honest it could have been far worse. All things considered I’m one of the lucky ones.

No one wants to have a mental illness but if you do have one please get the help you need. Your life depends on it.



13 thoughts on “No one wants to have a mental illness

  1. Until only a couple of months ago I thought I was a guy who suffered from depression. Now I realise I am a guy who ‘lives’ with depression. It made a difference for me to realise and accept that. Thanks for this post.

  2. It was hard to come to terms with the idea that something was wrong with my brain. The brain controls every aspect of our thoughts, emotions, actions and physical body. It seems to be the center of who we are so it feels like if something is wrong with the brain, then something is wrong with who I am. It took awhile to realize that although bipolar disorder affects my thoughts, judgement and actions, it is not who I am. Ever since I accepted my diagnosis and committed to doing everything possible to live a mentally and physically healthy life, life has gotten better. Acceptance and commitment are key to wellness. Thanks for a good article.

  3. It’s fair to say no one wants to have a mental illness similar to I didn’t want to be born living with mental illness. I learned so much about humanity on listening and reflecting on their thoughts and behavior including mine. I enjoyed reading your post.

  4. I remember my first depressive episode at age 10, and my first manic episode at age 12. I feel extremely thankful I took it upon myself at 18 to do anything in my power to seek professional help, alone. It has been almost a decade since being diagnosed with Bipolar I Disorder, and I am finally stable and mostly happy. I think there is an entirely new journey that takes place at the time one reaches stability as well. After so many years of getting used to suffering and being in survival mode, it can be really frightening and lonely to realize your life lacks meaning. I spent so long tending to my illness that I was unable to set myself up for having a meaningful life. I wasn’t able to finish college, maintain friendships, or explore enriching hobbies. I looked forward to stability for song long, but arrived empty handed. Sometimes the grass is indeed greener on the other side, but there is still an unfathomable vastness upon which you must build. I still have so much time. Thank you for writing this article. It really has me reflecting.

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