How To Live With Mental Illness

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How To Live With Mental Illness

Mental Illness, How to Cope

If you broke an arm and wore a cast, people would sympathize with you and sign your cast; all would be fine. If you cut yourself you would have a bandage and the same principles would apply.

If you have a broken mind you can expect to be a pariah, avoided and treated differently from other people who are supposedly “normal”. Normalcy being gauged by a great many people, and maybe not totally accurately.

After ten years of disabling domestic abuse, a session of homelessness and a few other things, I ‘lost’ my mind. It was a long search to find it again. . . and the struggle to keep it goes on daily.

If you are a ‘functioning’ mentally ill person you have a responsibility to see to your wellness. You have a right to do what it takes to keep yourself able to participate in the outside world. You also have the right to be understood and treated with compassion and respect.

This morning I had to fire my housekeeper, caregiver. It has been bumpy, but it finally came to a situation where I had to make a decision. She had brought me a fluffy, cuddly teddy bear from the dollar store. Now, at one time deep in my illness, after my daughter took my grandchild from me, I wandered around holding a baby doll.

Now I am to a point where I know that was sick. I also know that to have such things around is dangerous for me. I tried to explain, but she raised a fuss, crying and playing the martyr - should I have not told her? I think I was within my rights, and a compassionate person would accept the situation. Then I could not eat the unwanted breakfast she fixed for me and things went to pieces.

In order to be functioning and stable, I must order my life and see to my own wellness. To be in the company of someone who is having their own problems is a bad choice. If you have family or a spouse, SO, or friend you live with, you must protect yourself from unsettling situations.

Without exception, I mentally prepare myself for going outside. I make sure I have eaten and will not have low blood sugar. I make myself aware of the dangers there are for me, and avoid them as much as possible. In this way I function so well no one realizes it is a struggle. But if I want to be part of the world, I must work on myself.

If you do not use safeguards, you may find yourself treated like an unruly child, or a less than desirable citizen. I am totally adamant about the rights of the mentally ill, disenfranchised and disabled. It has appalled me to find out how “normal” people can treat those with problems.

It is important to mainstream people whenever possible, as psychiatric hospitals have become rare and the treatment of ill people is often hit and miss.

If you take medication - TAKE IT! Your responsibility is to help yourself be as independent as possible. Not taking medication can make the world a miserable place for those who need it to function. My heart goes out to the many people I see on the street who are not able to care for themselves. The world is not accepting of us “crazies”.

If you know someone who is mentally ill, be compassionate and kind, but don’t treat them as if they were “different”. . . give them a chance to act as normally as possible. Try to be accepting of the things they need to do to stay okay. There is no cast, no bandage, but we still have the right to be viable human beings.

Some of the greatest artists and writers were “mentally ill”. It may translate as being a different way of thinking. Mental ills are real and chemical and cannot be wished away. If you feel you need help, go to any doctor and ask for their recommendations.

I can still write and do the things I used to do. Mental illness has not affected my brain, my desire to succeed, nor my awareness. Love the mentally ill, they need it most of all.

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©2008 Ronen David, ISRAEL