We All Deal With Crap, Mine Just Has A Name

I had this post all ready to go and you'll read why I specifically chose today, but I couldn't just publish it without a mention of 9/11.  Never forget. How could we?

Can you believe it’s been a month already?  One month since Robin Williams died. I shared in my post about him how it affected me, especially in those first days. Since then, I’ve been thinking even more. (By they way, PBS is running a retrospective about him in the next week. I saw it last night and recommend it.)

It seems people have become a little more open about their own depression. Even if they aren’t ready to talk publicly about it, they seem to be sharing more with others who have. I think this is really healthy, if not to help get the word out, but to identify each other for our own support.  But the reason people are so reluctant is that there is still the stigma attached to mental illness, even if it’s “just” depression. (As a sufferer, I say that completely sarcastically. Unfortunately, there are still people who misunderstand depression to = sadness, and don’t understand the debilitating disorder that it is.)

When I shared just a little about understanding depression, I received quite a few private responses from people thanking me and sharing bits of their stories. People who I had no idea that they dealt with depression. It confirmed to me one of the purposes of my blog: that it was time for me to open up about my own mental illness. If more of us aren’t transparent, how will more of us feel brave enough to be transparent? And as more and more of us are, I’m hoping the novelty or the freak show aspect of it diminishes.

This does not mean I will always be reverent.  I find GREAT help in humor both for myself, and for dealing with the jerks who are mean.

I still have anxiety over it all. What will people think?  What will people say?  How can I best explain it?  Do I own an explanation?  How will people look at me or treat me differently? I’ve had people turn it on me before,  and that’s always a concern. Mean people are going to be mean, and I have to tell myself not to worry about that. What I like to say (if even to myself) is that we all have issues & crap to deal with...mine just has a name.

After years of searching, I was finally diagnosed with Type II Bipolar Disorder.  I’ll be writing more in depth, but for now, the nutshell version of Type II vs. Type I, is that my mania is hypomania and not usually the “fun” kind that’s often portrayed in movies and TV. I just get highly irritable. Small background sounds that most people tune out DRIVE ME CRAZY (see… politically incorrect there with “crazy”).  Add in a healthy dose of anxiety over normal, everyday tasks and then the depression; lying, incapacitating, horrible depression.

The good brief definition of Type II Bipolar Disorder comes from WebMD (complete with pronunciation. Thanks WebMD!):

Bipolar II disorder (pronounced "bipolar two") is a form of mental illness. 
Bipolar II is similar to bipolar I disorder, with moods cycling between high 
and low over time. However, in bipolar II disorder, the "up" moods never 
reach full-blown mania. The less-intense elevated moods in bipolar II 
disorder are called hypomanic episodes, or hypomania.

A person affected by bipolar II disorder has had at least one hypomanic 
episode in his or her life. Most people with bipolar II disorder suffer more 
often from episodes of depression. This is where the term "manic 
depression" comes from.

In between episodes of hypomania and depression, many people with 
bipolar II disorder live normal lives. (I would have written “normal”.)

So the truth is out there. If you suffer too, from any mental disorder, please know you are not alone. Feel free to share in the comments anonymously if that helps.  


Senniegal said…
Thank you Tonya for being brave enough to share your story. I was told from a very young age that I would do well to seek "help" for issues in dealing with my parents abandoning me. As a young girl I would get so hurt and angry and felt they were trying to call me "crazy". So see? Stigma of Mental Illness and being called "Crazy" was a fear even for small children back in the 1970's! Now that I am a full grown adult (46 years) I see with my own eyes that proper help IS out there if you reach for it. Its not easy but nothing worth fighting for ever is. I am told I have Hyper-Anxiety, Fear of Abandonment Issues. I am a Perfectionist (a real one not in the fun teasing way we through around so often..BTW a real Perfectionist is a mess!!), and I have General Depression brought on my living with severe anxiety. I have had several breakdowns in my life. One leading to a hospital stay. For many years I leaned on alcohol and my own methods of self medicating to help me though the bad times, but that was a dead end road. One night making a drunk dialed phone call to a dear friend I stopped that behavior a sought medical help. So now I see a Psychiatrist and a Physiologist as well as my GP to help keep me sorted out. I take medication that helps to level out my moods while I work spiritually and physically on what I know to do to make my health turn onto that positive track. It is still a roller coaster, but with each time I am honest with myself and with others....another layer of my illness is brought into light and healed and it may take a lifetime maybe not...but I am like Tonya, wanting to TALK about it because I am sick of it being hidden in shame in the shadows when it is so much more common than any of us would like to think. Everyone has their mental battles...so just face it and some don't. Some more severe, some are better...but our minds need care just as our spirits and bodies do and its time we all start to acknowledge it. Mental Health Awareness helps everyone!! If only someone could have reached me as that little girl I once was and convinced me there was no shame in talking out my feelings...I can't imagine the better more healthy and possibly less complicated life I might have had.
Tawn said…
Thanks so much for sharing. <3
Unknown said…
People who don't have depression really have a hard time understanding it. Like you said they think it's just sadness. They think it should just go away if you..... take a pill, exercise, change your diet, take supplements, talk to a therapist, just choose to be happy...... All of those things are good, but there isn't a CURE for depression. It's managed. They want a happy ending so when I continue to be open and talk about depression, they get frustrated. I love when they assume that if I'm talking about it, then I must be IN IT at the time and they try to fix me. I have plenty of good days and I'll still talk about it on those days too because it's a discussion that needs to keep going. Thanks Tawn for sharing. If we keep sharing, maybe we will see a difference in the general understanding. I'd like to see a major shift in the next 10 years. On an irreverent note, I'm soooo sorry you don't get the manic ups. It's like you've been short changed!!
Tawn said…
Yes, exactly spot on re: depression. And really, if I was in a depressive state, I'm not going to talk about it then. I like how you wrote, "it's managed". And you KNOW I love the irreverent. :) because YES!!! I think that too! haha
MJ said…
Thank you for sharing your struggles of mental illness, I know it's not only brave of you but also healing. I was diagnosed with PTSD a few years back from childhood abuse. It's been a hard road, but I walk it with faith and hope everyday (doesn't mean I do it well, but I try :)). The passing of Robin Williams was surely tough because who knew behind such a funny man was another man fighting mental illness? Thank you again, for being so honest and frank about your struggles, it does make our world a little less lonely! Hugs <3
Tawn said…
Thanks so much for reading & commenting. I hope you continue to walk forward hopefully, and reach out when you're not feeling it. :)

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