On mental issues and joking about them

Yesterday, I was talking to one of my colleagues on the way to the train station. During the conversation, somehow the topic of therapy came up. It started as a joke, but since I actually am in therapy, it ended up somewhat more serious anyway.

I explained to him that I have OCD and hypochondria, combined with some form of depression. This is actually what the current diagnosis is at therapy, though it`s still subject to change, of course, as we`ve only just finished evaluation.

His response to the hypochondria was “oh, you mean you just overreact?”. When I answered that I actually go into full panic attacks sometimes (okay, quite regularly), his response changed to “so you overreact very badly?”.

He meant it as a joke, and I can take it as a joke. We bully each other all the time. It`s how we function. I call him scrawny and tease him for being from this region. He bullies me for not being from this region. It`s okay. It`s all good fun, we both laugh, and then move on.

But at the same time, the comment about overreacting did hit something in me. Especially after reading an article today about how this generation is so focused on being healthy it makes us ill, and that we run to the psychiatrist for the slightest problem.

I have a lot of issues with feeling guilty about these things. I know I don`t have to. But I have one of those minds that won`t (can`t) shut up. I think and think and think, and though I am perfectly capable of reasoning things away, of looking at things from a near scientific point of view and remember statistics and the like (“I have no doubt that  your common sense is in perfect order” – my therapist), there`s also a part of me that just shoves the science-y part aside and runs around screaming and throwing tantrums.

I`m well aware that I`m from a generation where mental illness is romanticised, almost glorified. I`m from a generation where anxiety is the norm, where being a recluse is joked about in a “aren`t we all” way and extroverts are ostracised. Go outside? Actually talk to strangers? Why would you do that? That doesn`t fit in the Tumblr mold, in the ideal of a perfect internet addicted introvert.

This is really a very toxic environment. The last thing we need to do, is promote mental illness as the wanted thing and talk people into anxiety.  

Still, here I am. Mentally ill. Luckily, “mentally ill” does not in any way suggest a chronic illness, and though it`s a lot of hard work that no one actually sees because it`s literally inside your head, it can be treated and fixed (even if it`s hard to believe at times).

But this is why a comment like “you`re just overreacting” can really hurt. You just try dealing with your very own mind betraying you on a daily basis. You just try dealing with your body going into a full-blown fight-or-flight mode roughly once a week. You try dealing with the stress, the constant worrying, the tension, of not being able to help but wonder if you`re mortally ill. Every day.

When you get to deal with spending an entire day convincing your own mind that just because you have a strange cut on your leg does not mean you have flesh-eating bacteria syndrome. When you put so much energy into convincing your own mind that that headache is a stress headache and not a brain tumor. When you get to deal with the full knowledge that yes, you`re overreacting, but you can`t stop. It`s like watching a train wreck. It`s happening, it`s there, and there`s nothing you can do about it. It`s a particularly crappy train, too, that by now is battered on all sides but you still put it back on the tracks every time again with some miraculous herculean effort, just to have it crash again a week later.

It`s hard, when everything`s in your own head. It`s not like a broken arm where you have the cast. It`s not like crutches, or  a band aid, or even like the telltale signs of chemotherapy in case of cancer. These are at least somewhat more socially accepted. It`s okay to call in sick to work when you can`t get out of bed thanks to a flu. It`s not socially accepted to call in sick to work when you can`t get out of bed thanks to depression.

I`m always tired. I have insomnia, combined with the constant worrying. Dreams, nightmares, the sheer amount of energy needed to get out of bed, let alone go through daily life. Never mind going to (volunteers) work and being happy for your colleagues and your customers. Never let the customers know anything, you`re just a girl who`s happy and very enthusiastic about these caves. It`s exhausting. I fall asleep during my favourite movies. And then worry about how often I fall asleep.

I`m sick a lot. The stress of the constant worrying causes me to be nauseous and dizzy a lot. I just came from three whole weeks of no appetite and constant nausea. It was probably a constant state of panic. I am somewhat incapable of relaxing my muscles. My shoulders have been described as feeling “like bricks”.

I get to deal with a lot of guilt, for feeling like this. I haven`t been through bad situations. I wasn`t abused in any way. I wasn`t assaulted in any way. No traumatic experiences, save for bullying. I always feel like a whiny brat, and then my mind goes off on a rampage again and I just can`t stop it.

But I`m just overreacting, of course. Being a dramaqueen as usual. I just need to get over myself.

Think again. For the sake of my sanity.

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3 Responses to On mental issues and joking about them

  1. Pingback: Motherhood, Music, Memories and Other Musings: Mental Health Monday | A Way With Words

  2. Pingback: Motherhood, Music, Memories, and Other Musings: Mental Health Monday | A Way With Words

  3. I have chosen this as one of the best mental health posts of the week and featured it on my blog in “Motherhood, Music, Memories, and Other Musings: Mental Health Monday.” God bless, Tony

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