I've always been a controlling person. A part of that is struggling to ask for help.
That's why this whole mess with my hand has been so hard. Yes, the inability to use my dominant hand has been rough, but it is the constant need to ask for help that makes the whole situation disheartening. Tomorrow I will hit 5 weeks post op and I am obsessively hoping that at 6 weeks they will say I can drive again and start owning my life. It's not that I don't love my family, I can never express how grateful I am for all their help, but I'm tired of being so damn needy all the time.
And that got me thinking about mental health.
Since my injury everyone has been telling me to ask for help, to let them help, to take it easy. The support has been overwhelming and amazing. But I couldn't help but notice the similarities and differences between a physical injury and when I am crippled by my mental health.
Sure, I have trouble with some things because of my hand. Flat out, there are things I can't do. But I can do a lot. I'm happy overall and still functioning for the most part.
Depression is different. Depression is worse.
When I'm at a real low, I can't function at all. Brushing my teeth, bathing, getting up to eat... all of it is too much. The world is an overwhelming place. It's not one limb causing me issues, it's everything. (Don't even get me started on when mania decides to throw its hat in the ring too.)
And this is where the difference is. I've lost count of how many times I've been told to just force myself to shower. My favorite is the oh so naive, "Working out makes people happy. You should do that!" If just the thought of going to get something to eat out of the fridge is so overwhelming I burst out in tears, what on earth makes you think I can possibly go to a gym?
It took me decades before I was able to recognize that I was not okay. Decades to say it. Decades before I asked for help.
... And to some, I made the wrong choice.
Why is it that when someone is injured they are encouraged to ask for assistance rather than overdo it, but when someone with mental health issues does the same they are weak, overreacting, or buying into the mental illness hype?
Why, when the pills clearly pull me out of an episode, should I stop them? Why do I have to explain that people make me incredibly uncomfortable every single time someone says I'm not being social enough? Why, when I do take my meds and attempt to be social, am I still wrong for relying on chemicals to get by?
Since when is asking for help a bad thing?
Call me crazy (it's not a stretch), but I don't think it is.
I don't feel weak. In fact, I feel damn strong. I've dragged my ass through the other side of a lot of dark shit. I'm still here.
I can see the argument about my site name, "You're glorifying mental illness."
Damn right I am!
I'm proud of who I am and a part of that is my mental illness. The anxiety has shaped the relationships I have and the ones I don't. My bipolar episodes have completely changed the way I see the world and myself. I live for the days I'm not depressed and prepare for the times I'm manic. The trauma that gifted me my PTSD shaped my view of people and reshaped my innocence into something darker. The treatment for that PTSD helped me spin that trauma into something else. Something manageable. Something unbreakable.
People are proud when they complete a marathon, as they should be. But why shouldn't people with mental illnesses be proud of going into battle against their brain day in and day out?
Pardon me, but why the fuck should someone be ashamed of asking for help? What's bad about needing a hand up, even if that hand comes in the form of a doctor and pharmacy? What's wrong with needing an impartial party to talk to and sort through confusing feelings?
If you are strong enough to ask for help, know that I'm proud of you, even if (for some bat shit crazy reason) others think it's a mistake.