It took my mum years to believe I was mentally ill. From the moment I initially sought help, I had to put up with a constant stream of objections and ignorance. It started with
Fluoxetine? I’ve found out that’s really prozac. You can’t possibly take that.”
It deteriorated from there. Every stereotyped stigmatising comment out there, I received it.
- Think of all the people in the world worse off than you. They’re not depressed so how can you be?
- Just pull yourself together and get on with it. You’re fine.
- You’ve had a happy childhood, you’ve no reason to be depressed.
- You seem happy today. See, you’re not really depressed.
Plus variations of the same etc, etc, ad infinitum. Then of course, if I ever dared to be happy for more than one day, there was the
You seem much better. Maybe you can stop taking those pills soon?
It was deeply frustrated. As my health continued to deteriorate, she continued to deny it. People in her cozy little world don’t have mental health problems and that was all she was prepared to accept.
After my second suicide attempt, it was increasingly difficult to deny there was a problem. With it came if not complete acceptance, then at least a bit of understanding. She put in an effort to actually listen to me, to push for treatment, to support me and it was wonderful. To actually be able to describe how I was really feeling without having to be afraid the answer would be ignored or belittled.
Over the last year, as I began to show signs of recovery, the acceptance slipped. She was back to her old tricks. Every phone call for the last few months have been full of pressurising rubbish. About how good it is to have the real me back again, how fabulous I must be feeling, how it’s so wonderful how I’m coping. Plus of course, the constant references to cutting down drugs at every tenuous opportunity. It’s so frustrating.
Recently a family friend has been diagnosed with breast cancer. My parents have both been all over her. Taking her to hospital, out for coffee, offering to always be available to help in any way possible. I am in no way implying this is not what she deserves. It must be crushing to be diagnosed with cancer and I’m sure all the support is incredibly important. More than that though, I’m jealous. As petty as it may seem, I want my parents to be like that with me. I bet the friend is not being told to pull herself together or to stop taking her medication if she has a few low-symptom days. Most importantly, my mum seems to be really listening to her, acting on what she wants and I’ve never had that.
Early last week, as those of you who follow me on Twitter are no doubt aware, I was involved in a hit and run on my bike. I was physically ok bar a few cuts and bruises but mentally it has hit me hard. Since then, it has been coming increasingly clear that I am not coping. I have been alternating between tearful and ragey with no rationale. Now, being knocked over would be enough to shake anyone up but it’s more than that. It’s bought to a head problems that have been brewing for a while. The lack of balance in my life, working myself into the ground just to fall further. I am not coping with things as they are. It’s as simple as that. Something somewhere has to give and I feel completely unable to decide what.
I have tried to explain this to my mum. I really need some input and support before I crumble completely. She listens but she doesn’t hear. I mention that I’m struggling at uni and she counters it with me having enjoyed one of the practicals. As if the act of enjoying one small thing is enough to disprove any other problems I may be having. She tells me not to be so silly, that I’m fine. Any protestations to the contrary are countered before they even have the chance to leave my lips. I am well now and that’s all there is to it.
Except for I’m not. Therein lies the problem.