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?