Whine Whine Whine

I was watching television the other day when all of a sudden I was looking at the face of this little bald headed girl. There was a voice over begging me to send money to help keep her alive. Cancer, of course.

I'm so tired of all the articles I see and the non-profits begging for my money. I mean seriously, who cares if you have cancer or diabetes or lupus or any of the other fifty thousand "life threatening" illness that seem to plague our country.

I don't know these people, but someone really needs to tell them that everyone has problems and we really don't give a damn about theirs. I don't want to have to look at any more coffee cans in convenience stores with badly photocopied pictures taped to them, a sob story scrawled out in some family members shaky handwriting, "Bob is dying. He has three kids. Won't you help?"

Who cares? Jesus, suck it up. Move on with your life. Get over yourself.

By this point I'm sure that anyone reading this is either waiting for the punchline or so pissed off they can't see straight. Furiously composing scathing replies to my callous treatment of those in our society afflicted with life threatening illnesses.

I would never speak that way to or about someone with any of those illnesses. Yet I receive that same treatment from society on a regular basis. I have Bipolar Disorder and because my illness doesn't come with a tumor, a disfiguring surgery or a string of sympathy inducing commercials I hear, "Well it's not really that big a deal, is it?" or "Just get over it. It's all in your head anyway."

I can't get health insurance that will cover the cost of treatment or medications. I'm not eligible for protection under FMLA should I have a serious episode that causes missed work. My medications cost over $400 a month out of pocket so I have to buy a month, ration it to make it last for three and then buy it again. This means I can't function the way I would if I were treated properly, but because I have the medication I don't qualify for benefits like disability.

I wish that mental illness came with some hideous physical side effect, something that would make it obvious to those of you in society that don't live with it what it is and that it's real. I wish I could find the words to describe what real depression is like.

Everyone gets funked out sometimes. We all have crappy days at work or fights with our families and friends and sometimes the stress of life just weighs on us and we feel down. That passes. I'm talking about being trapped inside your own mind. Hearing your own voice in your head telling you to get up...move...do something..anything....and not being able to respond. I'm talking about staring down at a bottle of pills and thinking, for even a brief moment, that if you swallowed them you'd just drift off to sleep and never have to feel this way again.

I watch the news and I see the stories about mothers killing their own children and I feel a terror grip my heart. I know what it feels like to be so mired in darkness that the world seems hopeless. I know how it feels to want to die because you can't see a clear path through. And I know that if those women had access to reliable and affordable care for their problems and support from society, the tragedies could have been avoided.

With Bipolar you get the upswings too and everyone thinks you're the life of the party. They don't see the other side of it. Days without sleep. Outbursts of irrational and uncontrolled anger. Impulse control issues that can lead to risky behavior. Embarrassment because when it's all over you know you've said or done something that has upset or hurt someone else and they expect you to apologize. So you apologize and you feel humiliated. And you know it won't be the last time.

And the whole time you're watching yourself, like a bad movie you can't shut off. You're screaming inside because you want it to stop, but you can't make it go away. So you look at that bottle of pills again and you pray. You pray for the strength to get up tomorrow. You pray for the strength to take that next breath. You pray that tomorrow will be a "good" day.

And you smile. You smile so the people around you won't have to struggle to find something to say to you. You smile so no one will look at you like your defective. You smile so everyone will think your "normal"...because, after all.....it's only in your head, right?


super des said...

I hate healthcare in this country, especially for mental illness.

My mom has MS, which sometimes does manifest itself in a horrible physical form. But on her better days, she gets treated like dirt by the people who say "you don't look like you need a handicapped parking spot."

Aw sweet judgemental public.

Brillig said...

OMIGOSH, OMIGOSH! You're BACK!!!! Okay, now I'll go read the post. I just had to express my joy at seeing you again...

Brillig said...

Okay, I'm back. This is so terrifying. I'm grateful that you posted about it, though I can imagine it's very difficult.

I'm sorry for the way society treats this sort of thing. It's awful. And it's as real as any other tangible, disfiguring disease.

Great post, VM.

ian said...

It's always wonderful to see a post from you. :)

My mom has been bipolar for as long as I've known her. There are days when I call her and all she can do is cry. It's a very trying thing to deal with and I know how difficult, how crippling it can be.

All I can say is...good luck, and I'm going to buy you lunch very soon. :)


jessabean said...

I had a beautiful response composed as the VERY FIRST RESPONSE earlier today. But alas, work got in the way.

Either way, I'm glad you're back. And thank you for being so honest. I don't know about bipolar, as I've been diagnose with "regular ol' depression," but my heart breaks for you when you describe what you're going through.

I hate feeling alone, and like no one understands. I hate feeling like the world is against me. It makes me feel a teeny bit better to know that there are others out there than DO know what I'm going through.

When you cry, know that I'm crying with you. I sincerely hope that your good days are good. And I know what a struggle it is. Please keep writing...we miss you.

Suzanne said...

Yes, as a chronic sufferer of severe depression, I can partly understand. As the sister-in-law of someone whose mother suffered from bipolar disease, I understand a little more. Mental illness is difficult enough without our health care system denying us proper treatment because we are not supposedly sick. Thanks for this impassioned post. You always make me think.

Whiskeymarie said...

I have my good days and my dark points (and my really dark points), but I can't even begin to imagine what this is like.
Glad you're back.