My Lifelong Battle with Mental Illness

Good day, my blogging friends.

For those of you new to my blog, every once in a while, I go off the writing tangent to share my insight on topics I feel are important. One such topic is mental illness.

This week, we heard reports on suicides of fashion designer Kate Spade and world-renowned chef and storyteller Anthony Bourdain. And these are the latest casualties of a neglected aspect of our health care system. I don’t know how it is with the rest of the world, but mental health in America is met with a lot of skepticism. Depression and anxiety, two factors many professionals believe are the leading causes of suicide, are unfortunately brushed off. Many people who have these ailments are told to get over it. They’re told that it will go away. The truth is that these are diseases. They don’t go away. They require treatment. And that can mean a number of things. Medication. Talk therapy. Support groups. Stints in mental institutions. There are so many resources for treatment of these diseases, but are not being utilized.

This upsets me so much because I have a mental illness myself. Since my diagnosis in 2005, I struggled with coming to terms with this illness. One sign I experience is bouts of depression. Not just for a matter of hours, but days where I wrestled with my emotions. I struggled with finding the silver lining in the dark clouds hanging over me. It was so bad early on that I had thoughts of, and even attempted, suicide. Trust me, it’s not something you “get over.” You can’t put a bandage on it and expect it to heal itself up. It’s a lasting illness you can’t take lightly.

For a long time, I denied having bipolar. I refused to get treatment for it for so many years and for so many reasons. And my family struggled with how to deal with me. They walked on eggshells around me because they were afraid of how I would react to certain stresses. But after three stunts in mental institutions, it was clear something was wrong with me. I couldn’t deny my illness any longer. I had to accept that my bipolar was a part of me. And I had to make a decision. I had to decide to let my illness control me or live my life the best way I can. So after the last stint, I started taking medications and found a therapist that worked with my schedule.

I made the decision to fight for my health, for my livelihood. And it’s a decision I must make every minute, every hour, every day. And so many people are hurting because of their illness. I don’t know what Spade and Bourdain felt before their untimely deaths. I don’t know if they sought treatment. But their deaths will be added to a statistic that is on the rise, and sadly, is starting to become commonplace. So many people have some form of mental illness. Some deny it; others accept it and seek treatment. I don’t know how much more suffering I, or my family, would have endured if I continued to deny my illness. I probably wouldn’t be sharing my feelings on my blog.

If you get nothing else out of this, please know you are not alone. I will fight by your side the best way I know how.

Thank you for your time.

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4 thoughts on “My Lifelong Battle with Mental Illness

  1. Powerful words, George. Thank you for sharing your story. Maybe it can help someone else trying to make their own decision about their life what options they have open to them.

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  2. Thanks for speaking up, George! I have so many close friends and family who deal with depression. The ones who do best are the ones who face it. As for me, I struggle with anxiety. For years, I was so ashamed about it. I’m doing much better now. It’s a process!

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  3. Thank you for writing about this difficult subject, often considered taboo! When more people speak up about how difficult it is to live with depression, perhaps it will become easier for it to be a topic that is not shameful and that one can say, be vulnerable about – and get support! I’m happy to hear you are getting help and have a supportive partner. Sending you love and light!

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  4. I am so proud of my son’s blog thatn he is willing to be vulnerable to share his experiences with his Bi-polar with the world in hopes it will help someone else. I have seen so much progress he has made in the last couple of years. I thank God for opening his eyes and mind to embrace the treatment through medication, changing his diet & opening up more to his therapist. I thank God for the support that my daughter in law & the rest of the family has provided. A steady & strong support system is what gets us ALL through the ebb & flow of life. Thank you my son for being so transparent! I love you!

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