I have a mental illness and it sucks

I’m fucking mad.

I’m mad that I have to take pills everyday. I’m mad that they don’t work fast enough. I’m mad that they have side effects. I’m mad that they stop working. I’m mad that I currently can’t run because of my meds. I’m really fucking pissed that I feel like a burden to my husband, despite his reassurances that I’m not. I’m mad that he’s afraid to leave me alone. I’m even angrier that I’m afraid to be alone. I’m mad that it seems that my husband and I have a weekly conversation about whether or not we should go to the hospital. I’m mad at how mad I am. I’m mad that I can’t handle stress. I’m mad that I can’t stay up late. I’m mad that I spend what seems like half my life in doctors’ offices. And I’m mad that I’ve had so many blood tests in the past month that the nurse can’t find my veins anymore. It’s like I’m a fucking heroine addict with collapsed veins.

But do you know what I’m most angry at? I’m fucking pissed off that I have a mental illness.

This cat gets me.

This cat gets me.

I may have won the genetic lottery in some aspects of life, but inheriting a mental illness that runs in the family wasn’t my luckiest moment. I don’t know which side of the family I inherited this damn disease from, but both sides make a compelling argument. We’ve got alcoholics to the right and severe depressives to the left, and sometimes the two happen to meet. It’s like my DNA was destined to be fucked.

I know I’m not supposed to say these things publicly because you know, fighting stigma means presenting people with mental illness as happy, healthy, and smiling. Mental health organizations and advocates want to ensure that we appear nonthreatening, so no one really talks about how shitty it is to have a mental illness. Well, guess what? I’m pulling back the motherfucking curtain (and using as many swear words as possible. Does someone want to start a fuck count?).

I have bipolar disorder II and it really fucking sucks. And despite what some mental health advocates say, our mental illnesses do limit our lives.

Almost every major decision that I make is influenced by having bipolar disorder. For example, at 29 years old I have to weigh the consequences of going to a party and staying up late because this means taking my meds late. Taking my meds late means that I’ll be incapacitated by grogginess the next day and waste it in bed. Every time I have a social engagement, I have to ask myself, is it worth it? Instead of agreeing or disagreeing based on my schedule, I weigh the consequences to my mental health. This may seem like a ridiculous, insignificant aspect of life to be worried about. But do it for 10 years and then come back to me and tell me how insignificant it feels. I guarantee eventually you’ll want to just say, “Fuck it! I’m partying tonight who cares!” And then you’ll feel like shit the next day, not because you’re hungover (because being bipolar means you shouldn’t really drink) but because you’re medication is slated to meant to sedate you. You’ll wish you were hungover because it will feel better than being groggy.

Sick person

Or how about this? My ability to manage stress is significantly lower than yours. I don’t know if this is standard across people with bipolar disorder, but it seems the more stressful the situation the more my disease rears its ugly head. This
sucks because I work in a fast-paced, high-stress job that I’ve just realized is not good for my disease. To make matters worse, I’m really good at what I do and I actually like it. A year ago I would have told you that this was my career and I would move up the corporate ladder. But now I’m floundering and debating quitting to work at a coffee shop. This weekend, I saw a job posting for a sales clerk in an odds and ends shop. The store was incredibly quiet and I thought – that would be the life! I know as soon as I can leave this corporate job, it’s the end. There’s no high powered, high paying job in my future. I feel deep in my soul that my life will be filled with part-time work that pays a minimum wage.

stressedSince I don’t manage stress, everything is so fucking overwhelming. I used to be a clean freak, now cleaning my house doesn’t even register on my radar because it’s too stressful. I’m so stress out that it’s a fucking miracle that I get out of bed. It’s a feat that I shower, dress, and put make up on. And guess what? It makes me so angry when I’m having a particularly hard day and someone says, “But look at how well you’re doing.” Well guess what? That’s because I slave away at showing you the put together, efficient, and intelligent professional that you think I am. I would love to show you the crying, angry, insecure mess that lives inside of me, but you don’t actually want to see that. Despite what you say.

When I’m home (never alone, obviously) it’s my husband who gets to see all of these nasty bits. My favourite thing to do right now is to rage cry. This is when I fly into a sudden fury and start throwing and slamming things around until I tire myself out and fall apart and start to cry. This rage is frightening. I’ve never felt anything like it before. On Friday, I flew off the handle in the  middle of the grocery store because I didn’t like the way our groceries had been bagged. The kid doing his job had used too many bags and not filled them with enough things, which made walking home with them impossible. I grabbed the bags and started flinging produce into the bag, screaming “this is how you bag fucking groceries. It’s not fucking rocket science.” (I would know, I worked in a grocery store for 2 years).

Luckily we weren’t in front of the poor kid, but I had completely lost myself inside the anger. This wave of anger was the first time I felt like I could potentially hurt someone else. As I slammed produce into bags, my husband asked if we should go home. He was worried. As a joke he said, “I’m afraid you might kill someone.” I shouted back at him, “Well if I killed someone they would probably deserve it for being so fucking stupid!”

Hurting myself is a regular thought of mine, but hurting someone else has never crossed my mind. And it terrified me.

depressionNormally the rage that lives inside of me is more self-directed. I was so angry this past weekend that I was seriously considering vaulting myself over the ledge of my 6th floor balcony because I just couldn’t take it anymore. I’m not being hyperbolic. I was weighing whether or not the distance from my 6th floor balcony to the ground was far enough to actually kill me, or just paralyze me. I don’t want to be fucking paralyzed and fuck up my husband’s life further than I already have.  I’m actually panicked by the impulsiveness of my rage that I might actually act on it. But suicidal thoughts aren’t new to me. It’s rare that I go one day without thinking about a way to die. Waiting for the metro, and all I think is how easy it would be just to step out and be gone. A cabby takes a left hand turn too quickly and I think, man wouldn’t it be great if he hit me and I died. I pass bodies of water I can’t help but think about drowning. I’m prepping vegetables for dinner and I think, man this knife just wouldn’t be sharp enough to slit my wrists.

This is the reality of my life. I am incredibly unstable right now, which is why everything is so extreme. So, no this isn’t the normal everyday life of a bipolar person, but it’s one part of what it’s like to have bipolar disorder. The hardest part of the disease is that stability is never a guarantee. Sometimes you bring it on yourself, and others it comes out of the blue.

But right now, I’m exhausted by trying to appear normal and pretending that living with my mental illness is no big fucking deal. So the next time you think about “how good I’m performing” or “how good I look” or “that I have a spring in my fucking step” remember that it’s all a performance, an act for your benefit.

The reality is, I have a mental illness and it really fucking sucks.


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42 thoughts on “I have a mental illness and it sucks

  1. I have a good friend with bipolar disorder, and I know that life for her can be challenging sometimes (or often, to tell the truth). And as a European, I’m not so into this ‘everything has to be uplifting and positive’ thing anyway. And I understand that using a blog as an outlet for feelings that don’t have a place anywhere else can be relieving.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on Bipolar Whispers and commented:
    I read this today and I found myself shaking my head “yes” through so many of the points that the author made.

    I too am mad that I have been dealt the hand of mental illness. I am mad that I have to take medications, I am mad that every single decision I EVER make revolves around my mental illness.

    Sure we say it will not define us, and for the most part it doesn’t, but still my decisions are made with the reflections of mental illness, or with the thought of how it will affect me.

    I rarely want to leave my house. Once I get out of my house I usually feel fine, but the thought of leaving haunts me. I no longer want to participate in activities that involve people, or plastering on a fake smile to get through the ordeal.
    I am always terrified that one day my husband is going to have enough and not want to deal with me or my mental illness anymore. Its been 15 years, and I am sure it has taken a tole on him. I am beyond scared about that.
    When rage fills me I end up saying things I almost instantly regret. I cool down, I cry, and then I want to cuddle, but who the heck wants to cuddle with the raging demon that was just inside me.

    I love her ending of this passage, so please take a moment to read.

    Like

  3. I’m sorry that you have to endure this, BUT I am eternally grateful that you expressed it so fully here. The rage can be so consuming sometimes and deserves to be talked about with as many fucking cuss words as one can type. Mental illness fucking sucks, and there just isn’t a better way to put that.

    Like

  4. Thank you, thank you, thank you. My first husband had bipolar disorder and during the 19 years we were together, it became gut-wrenching to watch that illness do its work on him. When people talk about how we need to overcome the ‘stigma’ of mental illness, there’s a war inside my head. Because on the one hand he was a real person with real problems and he had rights and deserved to be treated with respect. He had a lot of good qualities and was loved by many people. On the other hand, the last several years we were together were terrifying. I was so afraid he would just snap one day and I could only pray (literally pray, harder than I had for anything else in my life) that if that happened he wouldn’t hurt anyone else in the process.

    Mental illnesses of all sorts (Alzheimer’s, etc.) are cruel and devastating when at their worst. I wish they would hurry up and figure out a way to give people relief from this. Thank you so much for being honest and sharing this aspect of the illness. I know it isn’t the only thing that defines you, and that it isn’t this way all the time. But this is the part of the illness we really need to get figured out, and fast.

    All the best to you and your amazing family.

    Like

  5. I’ve had bipolar for 25 years. At first it was the lesser, the bipolar 2advantage that Ted Turner, Winston Churchill, former Paramount Studio boss Charles Bluhdorn (They called him “The Mad Austrian,” when he wasn’t listening. I flew high on a disc jockey career on Prozac and Tegretol for ten years and even forgot I had mental illness for about ten years until the Prozac ‘pooped out’ “Prozac Poopout” is a clinical jargon-like term, and I’ve been in out-patient meetings with LNP’s and admin types who giggled about it in front of me. Ever since then, it’s been a struggle for sanity. Today was a day that I wrote. I feel that such a fuss has been made by me, those who love me, doctors, therpists, etc to keep me on the planet that some sort of chronicle should be left to the others when I die. Have you read “I’m not crazy I’m just Bipolar” yet? This woman leaves me in awe. It’s by Wendy K Williamson.
    One thing that you said confused me. You wrote, “I can’t run because of my medications” were you referring to antipsycotics or tell me which drugs.

    Like

    • The running comment was directly related to taking Lithium and how loopy it makes me. Any vigorous activity makes me dizzy right now. I’m the type of person who runs for stress, anger etc. so I can’t run right now and it’s hard.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. My old counselor used to spew sunshine and insist I do it too. I told her “you can spray paint a pile of dog poo gold and bedazzle it but it’s still stinky icky poo.”
    She learned to accept me as is after that. Think I made a point. It. Just. Sucks.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I was recently diagnosed with bipolar II at the age of 18, but I’ve been dealing with these symptoms for most of my life. I also have generalized anxiety. I totally understand what you’re saying in this post. I’ve been there. I am there. I’m sorry that you have a mental illness, and I’m sorry that I have a mental illness. It really sucks. Thank you for sharing all this. It reminded me that I’m not the only one who thinks about suicide every day. It reminded me that I’m not the only unstable bipolar person out there. And it reminded me that I’m not alone. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I’m sure stability is on its way. Don’t lose hope. We have our ups and downs, but this ultimately means that after a down, we’re destined for an up. Keep the hope!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad you found hope in my story. I felt like it was a little too negative maybe. But if it makes you feel like you’re not alone then I have done something good. I wish you all the best in your journey & please message me if there is.

      Like

  8. Reblogged this on Through My Eyes and commented:
    Mental illness suck. I too hate everything about it. I hate that my decisions have to revolve around my mental illnesses, I hate the fact that I have to take medication, I hate that I have to put on an act around people every day because they wouldn’t want to see how I really am because of my mental illnesses, I hate that my mood is never stable. I’m glad I’m not the only one that feels this way.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m 61. I can’t remember a time, from babyhood on, when I felt like everyone else seemed to feel. Life was a constant round of soaring highs and crashing lows, and I didn’t know why, and no one understood me except my dad, who was dark and brooding much of the time.

    The letters after my name tell much of the story. Flying high, crashing low. Now totally disabled. And no, I am not just some normal person who happens to have a mental illness. The illness has very unfortunately defined and confined my life, and yes, I am fucking angry about it.

    We seriously need a different sort of organization that shows the public just exactly how excruciating it is to have a mis-wired brain ruin your life. How awful it is to have to live every moment wondering what this traitor inside our skulls is going to do to us today.

    Thank you for this beautiful post. And keep that husband of yours around, will you? He sounds like a good one. My disease has affected my judgement at husband-picking. I’ve had two and neither one cared a shit about anything but the letters after my name. –Laura

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Pingback: I’m angry, and I’ll tell you why | CoffeeTattoos

  11. This is me. I too am frustrated by lousy med side effects, have a stressful job that I love and have an aptitude for, and especially, almost verbatim the type of rages you described in the grocery store. I’m divorced but I have 2 teen-aged children that have, shamefully and inexcusably, been on the receiving end of my verbal rages. This post made me feel less alone in how my illness has negatively impacted my life and the lives of those that I love the most. On the good days I try to be positive and think that I will get better and better at managing my mood episodes more effectively. In the mean time I feel a tremendous amount of guilt and shame especially for the terrible things I’ve said to my children. I too have a mental illness and it really fucking sucks. This post was so brutally honest and brave. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Thank you for this! I don’t have a strong support system & it is very frustrating! It seems that nobody around me understands what I’m going through. It’s always “smile” or “get some exercise ” thinking this will make me feel better. It doesn’t! Don’t you think after 20 years I have tried everything! I feel so alone & hopeless every day. It just helps to hear someone else say it sucks! Thanks again!
    Jessica

    Liked by 2 people

    • This is why I wrote the piece. If I can bring one person a sense of belonging in a very isolating illness, I have done what I set out to do. Please feel free to message me if you ever need a voice of reason, ❤

      M
      xo

      Liked by 1 person

  13. BP2 fucking sucks! I’ve never “let” my illness stop me from trying to do what I want….. it’s just stops me anyways. At 38, it still sucks. I feel like my life has been ripped away from me while I’ve spent the better part of the last 20 years royally fucking up, or in bed. If it wasn’t for my faith, I’d have checked out a long time ago.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Marisa, your writing is brilliant. Articulate, intelligent, descriptive, raw.

    I don’t have bipolar, so I won’t insult you by saying I know what you’re going through. However, I still relate to many, many of the things you describe here. I too am mad as hell. I too say “fuck!” a lot (and then am filled with terror that doing so puts people off, pathetically enough). I am mad at my illness, all the things it’s removed from my life all the things it’s rammed into my now-life, I’m mad at the medics who refused to see anything was wrong for thirty years, I’m mad at the medics who now admit I’m chronically ill but can’t do anything about it, and I’m mad at Big Pharma who exploits our illnesses for their profit whilst poisoning us with many of their products. I’m mad at a ton of other stuff too. So I understand that part, at least. Whilst I don’t understand the manic end of bipolar, I do understand – or have experience of – the down side of depression. Same with suicidal ideation, and being obsessed with finding a way out that won’t leave me alive and with more physical damage than I already have to deal with.

    Keep writing. It will be illuminating for many, and there’s a certain selfish comfort in knowing there are other people experiencing the same things, that we aren’t, despite the medics’ oft-expressed view, “weird”, “difficult”, “unusual”, “a-typical”, “tricky”, “awkward” etc. That there are others fighting the same fights every day.

    L. X

    Like

    • I love that you related to this just because of the frustration of having an invisible illness! (Not love, because it sucks you have fibro). At least I have a disorder that doctors believe in — i know many don’t with fibro. Thank you for reading & taking the time to write.

      M
      xo

      Liked by 1 person

      • They believe in fibro here in the UK more than “I’m just really tired and feel crappy again,” which was how I used to start explaining my symptoms to anyone who asked. I know the attitude to fibro differs from country to country, and in Spain, the regard it as a mental illness – they talk of a fibromyalgic mind, and dismiss it. Even my good GP was disappointed with the dx, saying it wasn’t really a proper dx because it didn’t offer any way of fixing it, and that it’s just an umbrella term for a bunch of otherwise inexplicable symptoms.
        In a way, it was easier managing everyone else’s reaction when I got breast cancer!

        But yeah, you hit the nail on the head in that I’m clearly identifying with the sheer frustration of chronic illness. Only other chronics can understand that. My partner is empathetic, supportive and understanding, and he sees it, he gets it…..but I’m not sure he can really understand it. How can you, if you’ve not lived even a day of it?
        L. X

        Like

  15. This was such an awesome read!! I couldn’t have said it any better. This is so right in regards to my own mental health illness. Thanks for telling it like it is straight up!!!

    Like

  16. It sounds like you are really struggling. I am sorry for your struggle. Dialectical Behavior Therapy would be very beneficial for you to learn coping skills and to think outside of all or nothing. It saved my life.

    Like

  17. Good for you for throwing back the curtain. Mental illness is too stigmatized one way or another and it’s important to hear about it from all angles. My boyfriend has bipolar and I have depression and we’re both on medication that likes to swing our moods all over the place with its inconsistency. I definitely empathize with your frustrations and rage cries. Courage and strength to you. Thank you for writing this.

    Liked by 1 person

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