Saturday, 30 August 2014

A walk through my mind

Yesterday I took a ridiculously long walk - about 4 hours, and ended up at a place called Mental Health Connections. I am a member there, but I rarely go down to take advantage of the offerings. They include free gym membership at the YMCA, seminars, dances, computer lab, a games room and more. They also offer lunches everyday for free. It's a great place to go and meet new people and take part in the activities. 

I go there because I suffer from a mental illness - Bipolar Syndrome. We're not allowed to inquire about other peoples maladies while we're there so I wouldn't know who's crazy or not. Yesterday I saw a woman in the lunch room going around fixing all the chairs and tables. She straightened up an unruly pile of newspapers that were actually being read at the time. She was obviously OCD in the extreme sense. She was interesting to watch in the sense that this was a woman who had serious issues and one wonders what kind of therapy she is going through for it.

I sat and drank a coffee wondering if I should introduce myself to some of the clients. Some were playing cards, some were taking part in the Summer Dance in the main hall. But being an introvert I chose to sit alone and watch the woman fixing tables. I was quite bored. It was a depressing situation. I walked all that way to take part in the activities only to sit and drink a coffee before leaving. I suffer from depression - it's part of the illness, and this day did nothing to change my outlook. 

My wife often makes reference to my little grey cloud that follows me around. Yesterday it followed me all the way home, and stayed with me the rest of the day.

I know in my screwed up little mind that I should have taken part in something, I should have talked to someone, I shouldn't have just had a coffee and left. But our minds take over and give you instructions you aren't comfortable with. Your mind is a powerful piece of human machinery that can control every aspect of your being. If it goes south, you're in trouble. I envy people that don't suffer from mental illness, they all seem so normal. But what I'm dealing with is my new normal. Medication, side effects, panic attacks, depression, lack of judgement issues, and more. I hate it. But that's the card I've been dealt. I have to deal with it all the best that I can. It could be much worse, I am still standing on two legs, I still have my health, I just have to deal with the grey cloud.

The depression is the worst of it all. The mania and other symptoms can be controlled with my meds (I take six different medications), But the depression is always omnipresent. It can be brought on by any number of negative events, like what happened at the Mental Health Connections, or money issues, job issues, and more. In my case it's the fact that I'm not working anymore and I can't stand it. I've become a house dad. Some may say that sounds like a fantasy, trust me, it's not.

Robin Williams suffered from severe depression (and Bipolar Syndrome). He struggled most of his life with alcohol and mental illness. Some have even called him an insane genius. But the fact that he took his own life seemed to bring his problems to light too late. He was always crying out for help, but being the man he was, he got laughter. He was very open about his alcoholism, but not so much about the depression that came with it. This happens to too many people. Last year in the US, 39,000 people committed suicide. In Canada the number was about 4,000 and that number is rising. These are scary statistics.

About a month ago I was suffering a lot. My meds were not working, my depression had grown exponentially, my panic attacks were growing more frequent to the point that I was afraid to drive anywhere. I was in trouble. But never once did I consider suicide. To me it's the coward's way out. So I went to the hospital. I sat in the ER for about 8 hours waiting to see a doctor. He changed some of my meds and sent me on my way. What I really wanted to to be admitted for further care and observation. I was told there were no beds available, and I would only be considered if I was suicidal. So they sent me on my way. A week later I had an appointment with my psychiatrist, who took it upon himself to change my meds again, in some cases back to what I had before. If I wasn't depressed before I certainly was now! It was a ridiculous experience, but one that I have unfortunately been through twice before.

So I endure, I cope. I have been through the entire mental health system from therapy to a place that specializes in helping people cope through activities - Mental Health Connections. And I still seem to be followed by the little grey cloud. It will get better, someday, but not today. 

Today it's supposed to rain.