Treading Water

Hey, perhaps I’ve been fooling my audience. Perhaps certain readers thought that single momming it while disabled by mental illness was somehow a cakewalk. Let me tell you, it’s not. My latest struggle has been managing panic attacks while trying to get my kid to manage basic concepts like hygiene.

I couldn’t have made it this far without thanking my financial and emotional sponsors. You know who you are. I do appreciate everything that you’ve done for me. Especially my mother, without whom I would have been homeless when I first split from my husband. And the as yet anonymous donors who helped me to cover first month’s rent and my kitty deposit. That was as unexpected as it was generous.

And I don’t mean to downplay it. But financial support of any kind does not give you cart blanche to tell me how I should live my life. I’ve got it handled and all intended goals will be accomplished in due time. Unsolicited advice has its place and that place is in some dark recess of your mind where it never sees the light of day.

And yes, some of us are actually unlucky enough to need medication. It’s not enough to inhale nature or to take a jog to restore our mental health. It is a constant battle just to stay above water. That’s what I feel like I’ve been doing these last few years. Trying not to drown in debt, emotions, my past and frequently occurring mistakes. And the truth is that no matter how bad certain folks try to make me feel, nothing will trump this guilt machine that is my OCD.

I’ve seen a lot of us disabled folks ridiculed for our perceived weaknesses lately on social media and it makes me angry. I’ve been working to end stigma of mental illness for years and to have my perceived inadequacies thrown in my face has been disheartening. I want to shake certain folks and say hey, that’s what I’ve been trying to tell you. For years now. For over a decade. My husband didn’t treat me very well, as I’ve alluded to on here. But the worst part was that no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get him to understand or empathize with my mental illnesses.

Mental illness does not make you less than, it makes you more than because you have to struggle more just to survive. Swimming in water, especially the dark waters of your brain, is not easy. Some of us have found outlets to control our anxiety and other maladies, some of us aren’t so fortunate. And we shouldn’t be belittled or told that simple, obvious things will fix us right up. If it were that easy, I would have done it a long time ago.

And I guess what I find the most insulting is this. Don’t you think that if it were as easy as diet and exercise, that I would be doing just that for the sake of my daughter? I’ve exercised and eaten right and still found myself mired in delusion because guess what? I was born this way. It’s not something that can be helped. No band aid can be thrown over it.

Sorry. A lot of this is just repressed anger at my ex, and I realize that. But even he has achieved an unparalleled level of understanding since we split and I thank him for that. I know it’s hard to empathize with true mental illness when you have not experienced it for yourself. Not everyone can handle their shit with kale and a jog. Man, I wish it were that easy.

And with that, my mentally ill insomniac brain is going to put this time to good use and make a moving checklist. Until next time, dear readers.

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