Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Post Mania & Stigma

Yesterday, David had the opportunity to read my last post about his mania and how scared I was. Here was his response:

I finally got my relief, as my mania broke. I also learned something about what my disease does to my family. Even though I may be physically present, I am mentally absent. Life just passes me by, and after the mania or depression subsides, it is like trying to catch up on a tv show, figuring out what all has happened. Without meaning to, I ignore everyone. This mania made it to the point that K tells me I lie and don't keep my promises. If there were ever an environmental trigger to stop the mania, that was it. It woke me up and I realize I have to take better care of myself.
I was hard for me to read, but at the same time, refreshing because he really wants nothing more than to feel better and he keeps trying. We've had two close calls of late where we thought he would definitely be hospitalized. Both times, he has given it everything he has to keep that from happening and brings himself back from the brink. This is a tremendous step in the right direction. He is not solely relying on the medication to heal him, but is working on behavioral therapy to correct his actions.

He is definitely feeling the come down from the mania, and almost always this leads to depression. We are trying hard to keep that at bay and he is not taking it lying down. Quite literally, he refuses to lay down and nap during the day to try and avoid the onset of depression. While he is having mild feelings, he is keeping busy in effort to not let it go past mild.

Yesterday, he emailed me this link http://surfcitysupport.blogspot.com/2012/09/compassion-fatigue.html that he said made him think of me. It's pretty spot on. Life caring for a loved one with a mental illness / mood disorder is exhausting. This is probably one of the few times he has recognized and mentioned how much he realizes I deal with each day. It's a good feeling to know that he appreciates how difficult it is on our family, not just him.

He's still running his support group every Thursday night and we've added several new members, which is nice. I'm happy he has stuck with it and kept it going even during times when he hasn't felt the best (like last week). He really wants to help others; I love this about him.

People with mental illness need help and often times don't seek it out because they are ashamed. There is a stigma placed on mental illness that makes it taboo. Why?? Are people afraid they will catch it? Do they really believe that the person is weak and should just "snap out of it"? Until our society can start acting more accepting of those who suffer from a mental illness, affected individuals will continue to seek what they see as the easy way out - suicide. I'm appalled and ashamed of the attitude we have towards these individuals. Mental illness is not ANY different than heart disease, diabetes, or even cancer. Your brain is the most complex organ in the body; how does it not make sense that it can also be affected by disease?

The new health care regulations (I'm not looking for a political debate) will really help those with mental illness in ensuring they can get the proper treatment and medications. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/10/health/policy/health-care-law-offers-wider-benefits-for-treating-mental-illness.html?_r=0
Treating any chronic illness, which is how mental illness is classified, is extremely costly, particularly for those without insurance. Heck, for those of us with good insurance it is still expensive - we spend approx. $1,500 per month on insurance premiums, doctors visits, and medication costs. That's more than our house payment. This legislation will hopefully help to alleviate some of the burden by covering costs at a higher rate.

I'm not complaining about having medical expenses - it's part of life. And I'm quite thankful that I have a great job with excellent benefits. But there are so many people who don't have this luxury. When your choice is medication or food for your family, what do you think a person will choose?

If you know someone with a mental illness, support them by being their friend. Don't treat them differently. Don't single them out because you think they can't handle something. We all want to be normal, and the best way to do that is to act as if the disease doesn't change who the person is - because truly, it doesn't.

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