"Finding Your Place" Mental Health Matters
Hello, my name is Rosalind, and I am a 45-year-old female and here is a part of my story. Visibility! What a privilege it is to be visible and accepted within the realm of the visibility that surrounds one. To have doors opened for you because you are visibly acceptable as the social norm in that you do not walk with a limp, you are symmetrically built, you do not have a visible tick, your physical appearance fits with what social society has come to be accept and expect.
What about what lies beneath your physical appearance? What about the invisible parts of what makes you who you are in this world? What if those who accepted you into their circle based in the visible social norms, knew what was under it all? Would they still accept you? Would they fight for you based on the person they came to know before they knew what invisible disability you struggle with? Would society marginalize you and cast you aside?
These are all the reasons I have never shared my own disability with too many of the people in my life. I do not want my disability to precede who I am as a person or what I can do in this life. But because of that my whole life has been a true struggle. I have Bipolar 1 and rarely seek treatment to help with the rollercoaster I seem to ride. It affects me in ways that make it hard for me to deal with normal everyday stressors of life at times. It effects my sleep, which effects my thought patterns, which effects my stress levels, which makes it hard for me to make a clear decision at times. The lack of sleep I deal with makes me physically ill at times. It makes it hard for me to make it through, some days just from the shear level of tiredness I feel from lack of sleep. On the opposite side of that spectrum if I am in a manic phase where I naturally do not sleep and stay up for days, I feel like there is no stopping me physically, but my mental health suffers tremendously.
Having to deal with these symptoms and try to maintain living in the mainstream world is taxing beyond one’s belief that does not have to face this. For all the years of raising my children one of which is autistic, and working a full-time job, having relationship with their dad was hard and I experienced failures during these years because of this. I could not always manage my own mental health and life on top of it. Often, my thoughts went to ending this madness I felt, I created. Why would I want to stay in this life and create this stress for the people I love? They could not help me because they did not know how to and of course my kids needed me, so it was not their job to save me.
I could not face telling the world about my illness because the reality of being cast away would have made it that much worse for me in my mind. So, I stayed living my lie to make others around me more comfortable and to not face derogatory issues.
As I got older it was abundantly clearer to me that my diagnoses would be used to treat me differently than people without it when I was going through my cancer treatment for breast cancer. I had a lumpectomy and a re-excision to get clear margins and radiation therapy. After my therapy I was experiencing extreme pain in my breast and went to see my surgeon who equated the pain I was feeling to my bipolar diagnosis. So, I asked her this, “If I stubbed my toe and it, I said it hurt would that be a lie? Would the pain be invalid because I have bipolar?” I was immediately dismissed in my struggle with my pain because of my diagnoses. Which was a slap in the face to me and had led me to no longer seek treatment for my breast cancer. I no longer trust doctors. This is just a prime example of why I do not share my disability because I do not tell me that what or how I feel is not valid it all has to be because of the bipolar.
I am still a living, feeling, loving, caring and very capable human at the end of every day and treat me as such. Sadly, what I have found is that I must make the choice to lean into my mental illness and get the help I need or ignore it and act like I am just as “normal” as everyone else in my circle, so I am taken seriously and not cast aside.
I still struggle to this day, and I still do not take my meds because that’s just not normal right. Because I am symmetrical, I have no ticks, I look like you do, and considered an acceptable member of society and treated as such. But I am screaming inside to be free and mentally healthy with valid support systems in my life. I do not want to be cast away and considered to be different, a sense that brings sorrow or feelings of people having to treat me special. See me for me and who I am not what I have.
Staying closed off to this does not help bring light to the matter and I know that. I want to be impactful; I want to relate to those that need me to, and I want to be related to. I hope to break free of these challenges and at some point, in my life and find peace and happiness and true acceptance.