When I had what I call, my breakdown, I was just out of an 18 year marriage. I had four beautiful children, who meant the world to me, no experience in a current job market and I felt alone, rejected, abandoned and very, very sad. My weekend alcoholic, husband had decided to leave me for another woman and I was overwhelmed and devastated. My world had come crashing down and I woke up one morning, sat on the sofa and started to cry uncontrollably. I cried for all of the above reasons, I cried basically, because I just couldn’t stop the tears. After about a week of no signs of the waterworks stopping, my kids started looking at me like I might be, well you know...CRAZY! I decided to ask around about what my lack of emotional control might mean?
My friends looked at me with sympathy and then wisely, so they thought, advised me to suck it up and just stop feeling sorry for myself. My church friends sadly told me that maybe my relationship with God wasn’t strong enough and I needed to pray harder and longer. In the meantime, the tears continued to flow. I began thinking I just might be CRAZY!
I decided that I was tired of my head hurting from the non stop sobs. Having no job, nor money, I couldn’t even refresh my supply of tissues, to mop away the tears. I needed to find out what a professional might think and I headed off to the doctor. The doctor looked at my flushed face, swollen eyes and listened to my broken words, spaced in between sobs and he shook his head and told me I appeared to have severe depression and he wrote out a prescription for a tricyclic medication and told me to take it at home and rest. Well I proceeded to rest alright. That medication knocked me on my ass. I laid on my sofa, and slept, woke up, ate, slept and slept some more. I gained weight, took my meds and slept some more, oblivious to the fact that my children the oldest who was fifteen, and the youngest who was just four, had appeared to lose another parent, to abandonment, or a mother who seemed and felt like she could be CRAZY.
In my many trips to the doctor and after many medication changes, the feelings of sadness remained. I was embarrassed to talk about my breakdown. I felt weak and ashamed. Nobody else I knew admitted to having mental illness. Being CRAZY, just wasn’t talked about. I eventually realized that I needed more help and started seeing a therapist. Therapists are like finding a good doctor, you need to try them on until you can find a good fit. I was lucky, the fit was perfect. I learned that I wasn’t weak, or even CRAZY. I started to realize that just maybe trying to be so strong was part of the disease.
I was lucky that I experienced mental illness during a time of learning and enlightenment and wasn’t subjected to being locked in an asylum, or undergoing a lobotomy or archaic shock treatments or even disowned by my own family.
My therapy taught me a lot about myself. Not always good things, but things that helped me understand myself a bit more. I started to realize that maybe my illness might be partly inherited, or I t could just be a chemical imbalance in my brain.
I eventually stopped taking those primitive old psyche meds and found that the newer, serotonin re-uptake meds. were much kinder and more effective and gave me a chance to stop sleeping as much and enabled me to re-establish myself as a functional, woman and a mother. I currently take my Zoloft like I do, my daily vitamin. I occasionally see my therapist and I try not to cast judgement on another person who might appear to be CRAZY. I realize that they are suffering what might be a chemical imbalance in their brain or that they just might be going through tough times and might need someone to sit with them during those dark times and just listen.
Mental illness is an illness like all others. It’s equal to a broken leg, stomach ulcers or even cancer. It’s nothing to hide from, be ashamed of or deny. No, you aren’t weak. If you pray, by all means continue. Seek help for your sadness or anxiousness. Reach out for support. Realize you aren’t alone and life can again be worth living. Find someone who will listen and care. See your doctor! I have found that we do suffer from an illness and best of all its treatable, and we are definitely not, CRAZY!!