Being Sick but Being Good At It

My brain on its current set of medications. Photo via HuffPo

In April of 2011, I was finishing up my MLIS and preparing to transition to working full-time in the office where I had been a student employee for two years. I knew that the level of anxiety that I had reached on a day-to-day basis would make my work there useless, so I thought I’d use that sweet government healthcare to actually deal with my fucked up brain. I went to Kaiser and when they asked what was wrong I burst into tears and couldn’t get it together to say anything coherent enough that qualified as an answer. I walked out not long after with a prescription for Paxil, kicking off my adventure through the world of SSRIs, etc. and all of their exciting side effects.The pills I’ve been taking since January make me so tired and foggy that I can hardly stay awake during the day or remember what I did yesterday- a tradeoff I’m happy to deal with in order to actually be ok with being alive, while being a fucking pain nonetheless.

But. None of this medical intervention would have happened at all if I wasn’t clearly struggling at work and needing to fix that specifically; struggling in my regular life wasn’t important enough for me to deal with the problem. It turns out this is in large part due to a disconnect with being being okay with being sick and being okay with how that manifests, and that disconnect is both huge and wildly unhelpful. It’s also what kicked off my recent medical leave and enrollment in a partial hospitalization program: I feel like I need to be good at being mentally ill, and that means keeping up with everything that someone without this chemistry in their body- both brain and pharmaceutical would be able to do.

While I hear it’s overwhelmingly common to feel the stigma of having a mental illness and reject the idea as long as possible, I was really relieved to know that what I was going through had a name and a series of medical interventions. I’ll tell anyone about being so depressed and anxious that I have trouble getting out of bed and don’t feel that stigma. But when I actually don’t have it in me to get out of bed I’m not so cavalier. So according to some medical the first part of connecting the two is acknowledging it. They probably didn’t mean online and in a blog, but here we are anyway. So, sometimes I can’t get out of bed. But really. I can’t get out of bed. I cancel plans, and I’m late for work or class. I’ll sleep until it’s evening and I have to take the dog out (she’s lazy and is perfectly happy to lay (lie?) there all day long), or will sit around scrolling mindlessly through social media and marveling at how functional I seem on there. It’s gross and it’s unproductive, and I still feel terrible about it. But it’s what this whole things looks like some days. I don’t know how to fix it yet, but maybe that’s ok. I don’t know.

At any rate, here is another mostly-unrelated Carrie Fisher quote I like. Enjoy. Or don’t- I’m not your mom.

“Happy is one of the many things I’m likely to be over the course of a day and certainly over the course of a lifetime.”

That’s good stuff. I think it’s from Wishful Drinking.


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