Day 4: What are the pros and cons of having a mental illness(es) or your specific illness(es)?
I am not sure I have ever thought of pros or cons in relation to the mental illness I am diagnosed with. See blog post:
for the full list of current official diagnoses I have).
I have heard people with no experience of depression or anxiety utter condemnations of those that have them. Statements like:
Depression is simply an excuse not to work
Just get over it, I did when I felt sad
Everyone gets nervous, that’s no excuse for slacking
Why can’t they just have a shower?
There is still a lot of negative stigma attached to mental illness in New Zealand. It makes it hard for those suffering from them to live in a society that makes assumptions about it. We get hammered by the symptoms and side effects that our diagnoses bring with them and then we bear the judgement of society on what we are or are not capable of. It pervades the very fabric of society.
I have been in the emergency department (A&E) where the question was asked of me, why the mentally ill could not be treated in their own space. I have argued with a doctor that a throat slashed open in self harm required the same treatment as one that resulted from an accident. I have heard the cruel taunts as a mentally ill person fell in the street as they stumbled under the burden of their illness and societies cruelty.
I am finding writing about this really hard. Far harder than I thought it would be. I thought the hard stuff has passed in writing what my diagnoses were. Apparently not. The problem is that all the pros feel wrong to me, like they are sops to a failing spirit or a 100 metre life line and you actually need 110 to be saved. But I will keep going.
There is an advantage in having a diagnosis, I can receive targeted treatment. This can potentially mean a decrease in the number trials to find what medication or treatment modality might work for me. However, now that it is on my medical record it follows me everywhere. If I accidentally over dose on anything, with this paper trail, the automatic assumption will be that it was a suicide attempt. I do not have a diagnoses that people suffering from are treated even worse. I will not name these and perpetuate that stigma, it is wrong.
If I am being brutally honest with myself then I can create excuses because of my diagnoses. For little things like being unable to attend Hubby’s work Christmas outing, using the agoraphobia and anxiety as an excuse. When in fact I may just not want to go or the real reason is that none of my clothes fit and I feel ugly. I think this could be both a pro and a con. An excuse for getting out of things and a rationale for my behaviour, something to blame. A step back from responsibility.
I am still experiencing issues with this writing so I am going to stop, post what I have and return to it when I am in a better state of mind.