Hey everyone! It’s crazy-people Christmas, if Christmas was started by a massive corporation who was obligated to create a funding initiative as part of the approval on their merger (aka #B*llLetsTalk.) Every year this day comes around and people spout a few facts about mental illness, some money is made by a company that gets massive positive press out of this venture and some money goes to organizations working to either help the mentally ill or help eradicate mental illness.
Then there’s me. A person with a mental illness who deals with it every day and has no hashtag. Hrm, if I had a hashtag, though, that’d be pretty cool. #HeatherIsCrazyAllYear. I like it.
I am cynical enough to dislike being branded by a big company, especially when the reasons behind the initiative are so murky and so clearly tied to them, rather than the groups they fund.
That said, it does get people talking. And who am I to ignore a chance to help explain what it’s like to have a mental illness?
Having a mental illness is isolating. When I was hospitalized the first time, I discovered just how uncomfortable my illness made people. Even the love of my life, my dear partner of now 18 years could not find a way to regularly visit me in the hospital. Mental health hospitals are frightening and contribute to the isolation of the mentally ill. I wouldn’t want to visit me there. I’m pretty sure there are nicer and more inviting prisons.
Having a mental illness is unpredictable. Committing to long term plans, making far reaching decisions – I suck at it. I’ve gone back to school and I can’t guarantee that I can commit to a full program. I could be fine today and tomorrow I could be back where I was in my early 20s. I can’t say where I’ll be in a month or two. Heck, I can’t be assured of a day or two.
Having a mental illness is devastating. I mean it. I lose parts of myself whenever it strikes. I’m not the same person I was before my mental illness developed – or worsened. I’ve had symptoms since childhood. I don’t know who I would be without it. There’s a phantom me. An alternate universe me. She taunts me with high school finished and university attended and children had and books published and so many other desires unfulfilled.
Having a mental illness is not a one day thing. It is not a brand. It’s not a popular hashtag. It’s an unpopular one that people ignore because it’s just not that cool.
It’s me. And I’m crazy all year.