When you exit your crisis point and begin walking toward the sun again, people tend to notice that something has changed. What this state of being doesn't indicate is wellness in all of its glory. The difficulty for other people living in your world is that they cannot identify accurately at what place you are on the recovery spectrum. For outsiders you are either ready to top yourself or well. This is not their fault. As I have said before, noone can see the inside of your head so unless you communicate what is going on, the general populous are clueless.
So when people know you are ill, they really like to tell you things. Over the years I have met some really unhelpful people who are ready and willing to impart their wisdom in relation to mental health, for my own good you understand. Let me share with you some examples:
1) You don't look mentally ill
This one always cracks me up. I'm still unsure to this day exactly how I am meant to look. Bless the taxi driver. He was taking me to my psychiatric appointment as I had been banned from driving for 6 months following a manic episode. He couldn't quite fathom or comprehend that the "normal" person in his car was of unsound mind.
2) Oh yes, I feel a bit depressed today too
No you don't. You're having a crap day and feel a bit pants.
3) I am so up and down today, I'm feeling a bit bi-polar
Are you hearing voices? Is your brain expanding at a rate of knots thinking with a wider capacity than that of God? Are you sprinting up and down the office at work and calling one of your closest work mates a c***? Did you offer to write pornography for a stranger on the street? Are you so agitated by the slowness of everyone breathing that you might smash a chair over someones head? Are you prepared to spend the entire contents of you bank account on handbags, matching purses and shoes? I think not.
4) Life has its ups and downs and you feel blue, but life is what you make it
If I could control the insanity thermostat in my head I would. Believe me.
5) Its all about positive mental attitude and thinking your way out of it
There is definitely space for positive thought, mindfullness and improved self esteem. However, thinking about unicorns and sponge cakes for 20 minutes doesn't cure an illness spanning approximately 30 years.
6) Why can't you snap out of it
7) Maybe you're not trying hard enough
8) I think you feel too much and are blighted with empathy. This causes you to experience the world with too much "volume" so you need to think about that
If I had a hotline to God, maybe I could discuss my physiological and spiritual make up and ask Him if he could adjust my volume knob and help me be less caring and more of an arsehole. Maybe that would toughen me up?
I could go on but I won't. I realise I sound angry and bitter. Most of the time I empathise (Yes that defect of mine) with other people as they are only trying to be helpful. They genuinely cannot understand what happens during periods of illness or how incredibly difficult it is to function. So when I begin to emerge from my most recent relapse, I realise that telling people what is going on might actually help. It's a massive risk though. People make irrational leaps when they don't quite grasp things. Mental illness = stabbing people on the tube. Slight exaggeration but you get the drift? So when people start asking me how I am, I decide in that moment with that person, to tell them what is actually going on. Letting people in is hard. It makes you massively vulnerable, open to ridicule and rejection. But it does connect you to the land of the living. Some people think you want sympathy. I am not that person. I don't need you to feel sorry for me, I would just like you to walk with me and understand. Some things I say might shock or frighten you. That is not my intention, but I do forget sometimes that most people don't live life with a horror film going on inside of their head.
So I commit to yet another level of honesty in my life. I invite you in and hope that this will help me to flourish.