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.