Greetings everyone! It's the Unleashed One, back with another entry. Initially, I wanted to title this as another "Misconception On Monica (MOM)" episode, but I didn't believe that the title would do it justice, because this goes deeper and beyond just myself. Before I get into the mushrooms and fruit salad of the topic (I know it's normally meat and potatoes, but I'm doing a variation of the vegetarian diet for this month, so I thought that will fit better ... 😆), let me begin with this:
Note: This journal entry will be speaking on mental illness. If this is not for you, you know what to do.
Okay, let's continue.
For those of you who follow this blog/journal and those of you who know me personally, I am not one who engaged in a tremendous dialog as it pertained to situations I was going through. Over the years, I realized that suffering in silence served more as a hindrance than a help. I began taking small steps in transparency but stumbled along the way. In my observation, some of the pitfalls were:
- I confided in the wrong people about my plight.
- In moments when the person I was talking to was the person I experienced disdain for, I was unable to balance present discomfort vs being triggered, which led to an imbalance between emotion and logic
- I spoke about less pressing issues, believing that the individual I was addressing wasn't interested or did not have the magnitude to deal with the more relevant topics
- I listened so much to the other person's highs and lows that by the time it was my turn, I had lost the motivation to say anything.
Don't get me wrong. I am all for the stigma surrounding mental illness coming to an end. To no longer suffer in silence is powerful. Revelation can serve as Humanity's universal language.
As I've discovered, there are flip sides to commonplace suffering, which I like to sum up as (1) misclassification (2) desensitization, and (3) indifference.
The use of language is a powerful tool. If one uses the right words with the right audience, then it activates the desired response. I have seen individuals who may label something as a medical calamity without being diagnosed as such, or even worse, use the jargon just to get sympathy or likes, shares, and subscribes.
Over time, emotional fatigue sets in. Whether it's one person constantly going through something or multiple people going through various situations, it can become draining. This brings forth the desensitization ... seen it before, heard it before, here we go again. The indifference soon follows.
Yes, everyone goes through pain. However, I don't think there should be this contest over whose trauma/issue trumps whose. Going through any type of illness shouldn't be treated as the latest fashion trend or Tik Tok challenge.
For me, navigating in the world takes mindfulness and effort. How effectively I'm able to counteract my anxiety is one of the measures that determines if I'm going to have a good day or not.
Here is a small example of what can occur - at least with me.
I open my eyes, usually just before my alarm or when my alarm goes off. If all is calm/content in my mind, then I immediately get out of bed. If my mind is overrun with ruminations, then my raring to go is in withdrawal, and I hit the snooze button a couple of times.
Once I am out of bed, I go through the process of preparation. Weekends tend to be easier because of not having to go to work. Also, if I've had my early morning workout, then it, more often than not, assists in keeping the anxiety and depression at bay. Chalk it up to the endorphins, I suppose. But, on those days when I have not had my full workout routine (due to doing it in the afternoon or taking a rest day), stepping out into the world can feel daunting.
What takes up the most time in my weekday preparation is makeup, then wardrobe (if I hadn't picked it out prior to the day of). Anxiety hits me in situations where I am uncertain if an outfit looks right on me (cue body dysmorphia) or the original look I was going for with makeup or hair doesn't pan out and it's too late to modify, lest I be late for work. Or, I can feel the residual energies I've been around previously, and anxiety is the end result. Mental illness is unpredictable, and it can take some excavation to get to the root of how it gets started. To keep this from advancing to debilitating proportions not only take proactiveness and mindful measures but also a support system as well as medical intervention if one can't cope on one's own.
Do I regret embracing transparency over continuing to stay silent over my struggles? Honestly, no. Being transparent has assisted me greatly in the healing process. However, seeing how others utilize their transparency that brings forth misclassification, desensitization, and indifference is something I take issue with, for I fear that individuals who need the help may not get seen, or worse, not taking seriously, when a medical issue becomes a hashtag.
I have invited Mini Truth to chime in on this subject, for she and I have had similar struggles in this realm, so now I leave this space to her before closing.
Greeting, one and all. Mini Truth here.
I was asked to join The Unleashed One on this blog post, thus, here I am to share some of my experiences in this realm.
I admit that my biggest pitfall in sharing anything that had to do with my struggles was the ingrained belief that no one really cared anyway. This perhaps came from a life-long journey of being around people who considered my needs, feelings, and wants last and overall unimportant. Nevertheless, it left a lasting impact and scar on my psyche and the way I perceived how the world accepted and/or rejected my struggles.
This was followed by a number of other accounts in which things panned out very similarly to The Unleashed One if not, exactly the same.
This raised a question ...
I fear say, yes. Yes, it has.
This is not how I perceive things, mind you. This is in fact a true statement. I've come to this conclusion based on many years of observation, coupled with a good amount of research and probing into the minds of others.
I remember many years ago, the retelling of a story of domestic violence left people mortified and horrified. "How could others be so cruel?"
Humanity would step back and try to consider what walking in the shoes of the violated would be like—empathy and sympathy were the major tools used to feel for the abused. Moreover, want to do better for the grander scheme of things; for the world at large. The paradigm of "suffering in silence" was shifted by compassion, which was the motivating force that created the first Awareness Movements.
Then in time, "awareness" begot weariness, begot fastidiousness, begot indifference. Then the paradigm shifted again. Suddenly, it was cool to call women (even men) bitches, hoe, and treat them like dirt all over again. It has been these alterations in perspective that have left people numb to the harshness of domestic violence.
All of the same can be said for mental illness.
There was a time when mental illness was considered as something to be locked up for — for misunderstanding leads to fear. Yet, compassion opened the door to many conversations, which led to enlightenment.
But, as it appears, in this world there is such thing as "too much enlightenment". Because the more humanity learned of the varying degrees of mental illness, the more the perspective forked into two arenas; (1) exhaustion and indifference of hearing about it, and (2) it being "in style and/or 'relevant'" to have some level of mental illness.
Further into the rabbit hole humanity went ... Now, the "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Illness" has a 5th Edition, called the "DSM-5", and a total sum of 300 mental disorders listed inside its pages. Leading the world to believe that EVERYONE has some level of mental disorder. If this is true, then perhaps there is some credence to the indifference ...? Who is to say?
With all that said, let me walk you through a day in my life.
My diagnoses are C-PTSD, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and Major Depressive Disorder. I will not go into the details of how these came about as I probably wouldn't finish this blog post today if I did, but I will explain what a day looks like for me.
If I could sum up my day in one word, that word would have to be "exhaustion". I am perpetually exhausted. Day in and day out, all day long.
When I open my eyes up in the morning, I barely ever want to get out of bed. This is because:
- I more than likely had a terrible night full of angst due to other infirmities, as well as insomnia.
- I truly see no reason in getting out of bed if I already know what lies ahead of me throughout the day. Struggle.
- I feel, to some degree, unfulfilled in life.
Thus, I think hard before rolling out of bed. Immediately and automatically, my mind and body go into autopilot mode. My movements are outside of my head—movement (muscle) memory if you will. I do the things that I do because I've been doing them for years. It's a routine.
Instant brain fog ensues.
At some point after shuffling around the house getting my morning rounds done and in a combination of brain fog and hamster-wheel of thought—the perpetual list of "Things to Do"—I eventually catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror.
Immediately, I hate what I see. I can't recognize myself inside this body. It's foreign. Unable to look at myself any further, I look away and start to take the steps to get myself ready for the day. No more looking into the mirror allowed. That lady in there is not you, and she is ugly as all get-out.
On autopilot, I start work. Still, I am exhausted; fatigue is all this body knows. At times, I can't control the need to sleep. Sometimes, I have to stop what I am doing altogether just to sleep. The entire time I am telling myself that I am worthless because I can't do something as simple as staying awake and working. I judge myself harshly and without mercy.
I start to think about what others are thinking about me. Specifically, those I care about the most. Then, my mind goes to the bills I can't pay if I don't work and the things I can't do if I do work. I've yet to master how to strike a balance. I don't even think that there's really such a thing as "striking a balance".
The more I think, the more tired I get. This cycle continues throughout the day no matter what I am doing. The constant worrying, the constant self-judgment, the constant exhaustion.
I try to do things that I love in order to take my mind off the turmoil. Sometimes it helps, most times it doesn't.
And in the midst of all of this mind-fuckery, I am also dealing with physical illness the likes of which most people couldn't even imagine.
Finally, night falls. I am dying to sleep away my fears and concerns. Low and behold, I can't sleep.
Repeat step one.