My issue with mental health is my physical health. I’d be fine. As I said when I was a kid (when the gaslighting possibility was raised of my symptoms being psychosomatic), “I’m not sick because I’m sad; I’m sad because I’m sick.”
Physical health and stuff, if you want half a page of context.
I’ve got multiple autoimmune disorders that screw with my ability to sleep and leave me in continuous but ever-changing pain. Sometimes it’s here, sometimes it’s there, sometimes it’s both, sometimes everywhere. Sometimes it’s a dull ache, sometimes it’s a sharp spike. Sometimes I can relegate it to the background, but sometimes it flares up to overwhelming levels. Sometimes a spike or flare lasts a few minutes, sometimes a few hours, sometimes more. I’m constantly exhausted. My brain is so overwhelmed with all the extra signal from my hypersensitive nerves that I’ve lost a significant chunk of my higher processing power, to the point that I can no longer think my way through material that I used to teach. I can’t concentrate on anything for long.
Last time I tried to take a light courseload, I was sleeping 12 hours a day, doing literally nothing that was not necessary, and I still exhausted myself so thoroughly that when Mom came to bring me home a few weeks into the semester I was in the same mental state as when I’d been kept in twilight sedation to have my wisdom teeth extracted. I was aware of a bubble a few feet in radius. Nothing existed beyond that. I could respond to simple questions with monosyllabic answers. I kept a hazy blurred memory of the experience. But that was all.
Trying to force my brain to think through complex things just makes me woozy. I’ll start to sway and wobble because I don’t have the processing power left to keep my balance properly. I can’t read novels anymore because bringing the story to life in my head while remembering what happened at the top of the page I’m reading and also the overall thread of the plot is just too much.
As I said, my nerves are hypersensitive. My ears are ringing, I’m in pain all over, and anything that’s mildly annoying to you is actively painful to me. Bright lights, loud noises, high-pitched sounds, a friendly slap on the back, etc. You can put on a dab of perfume in the morning, shower in the afternoon, walk in front of me in the evening, and the lingering scent carrier chemicals will feel like a sharp spike up my nose.
In short, being diabetic is the easy part. Hardly worth mentioning.
The exhaustion is getting worse as I get older. I can walk a few blocks on a good day, but more often it’s hard enough just getting to the kitchen. I can’t work. I can’t focus enough to do a sewing project. I’m never not in pain, and never know how much pain I’ll be in a minute from now. I just try to find ways to pass the time without overtaxing myself until I can try to sleep again. It’s… not a life.
I’ve been to as many doctors as I could find for decades. They’ve done as much as they can. We’ve got a long shot to try. One more “This sometimes helps some patients who kind of have similar things” stab in the dark. Doc says to give it a few months.
I don’t have depression. I don’t have anxiety. I don’t have bipolar. I’ve learned to deal with things as they come. I had a mental breakdown as a teenager when things first got really bad, and just completely rebuilt my personality from the ground up using zen meditation. It helped a lot. I don’t stress over things. I choose whether anger is worth burning my energy or is better just let go. I enjoy the good things on their own terms in the moment to the fullest. It’s not for everyone, but I wish more people would try it. I see so many people unnecessarily emotionally punching themselves in the face when just stepping back to take a breath would hurt so much less. (Obviously, that’s not how it works if you have anything like an anxiety disorder. But it could work for a lot of people who get stressed out, angry, worked up, etc. when they’d feel better and be in a better state of mind to get things done if they stopped feeding those emotions unnecessarily.)
Anyway… I’m weary. And I don’t think it’s going to get any better. It’s not something that can be fixed by talking it out or taking pills. (I’ve tried the pills anyway. Some of them are supposed to be able to help with other things I have. They don’t help me with anything. I take my hormone replacements and my painkillers, but I’ve never found anything else that does more good than harm.) But there’s still a mental health component.
Most of my friends have something going on. Anxiety, bipolar, ADHD, PTST, depression… some kind of combination of the above. Several are some form of autistic. I listen to them. I accept them for who they are and try to learn what they’re going through and how to individually support them. I’ve always had a knack for seeing other people’s points of view and listening to their burdens without taking on their pain myself. I can offer honest assurances without going into toxic positivity. I can remind them that their (mental and physical) health struggles (and the symptoms thereof) are not their fault and therefore need no guilt or apology. Ableism sucks, especially when it’s internalized. In short, I do my best to be a good friend and to help where I can.
I’m sorry that so many of you are struggling in so many ways. I’m glad we’ve got each other.