Living with mental health issues can almost be seen as living a double life, especially when someone is first diagnosed.
After diagnosis, things do make sense about why someone acts the way they do. I know for me I pressed on despite the diagnosis, and did what I could do to deal with the mental illness separately from other aspects of my life.
I’ve always been more open about the illness than a lot of others who attempt to hide it at all costs, but there were still times when I did what I could to hide it. Trying to get my brain to come to terms with the two distinct parts of my life, especially while working a high stress job, took a significant toll on my health.
That is a toll I’m still paying for. I still face suicidal ideation frequently. I urge to self harm. Over the years since diagnosis and treatment the symptoms aren’t as bad as they once were. That’s because I am more aware of them and I don’t let them get so far out of hand. That said, though, the symptoms still do flare every so often, and kick my ass.
I’ve lost count of my hospitalizations over the years. I hate to say it, but going into hospital doesn’t even phase me, or my wife any more. It is just something that I have to deal with. It sucks, but it’s an opportunity to tweak meds and recharge. I don’t see it as failure anymore, though there is a time I once did. I see it as having an ability to cope until I can’t, and then needing the extra support.
Something else that has shifted in me is, I really don’t try to hide my mental health struggles. I’m upfront and open about them, and I find I use a lot less energy as a result.
Not everyone can be open, which is unfortunate. I have been very blessed in my life to have family and friends who love me and support me during the rough patches, even when I do my damnedest to push them away. I appreciate the fact that they are all stubborn like that.
While the symptoms of mental illness may not decrease, they can be better controlled, if one gets the right help, and insight into their condition. The road is long, and often frustrating, but in the end it is worth it to not hide what you deal with. By owning it you could help someone else with their own issues, and you’ll use a lot less energy yourself.