Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Awareness of What?

We recently had mental illness awareness week, apparently.

Is this a good thing? And what is it that people should be aware of?  Perhaps mostly that human behavior is very variable, and as long as people aren't doing anything dangerous, we ought to be a little more accepting and charitable towards each other.

OK, so that is not going to be the message of any campaign in the real world. Acceptance of deviant behavior does not sell more drugs. And I am not ready to totally dismiss the idea of mental illness, although I haven't really figured out what it means.

I am bipolar. I guess I am willing to say that, and it makes sense of a lot of things for me. My mood is very sensitive to everything from medications to the amount of sunlight I get to diet to various stressors in my life. And when things go wrong, I can react with extremes of depression or mania.

But it is not just biological, although there is that component. It is not just like diabetes, no matter what NAMI says. Taking meds may be a piece of the answer for some people, like myself, but they certainly don't give you a life. You have to do that for yourself.

So what would I want my friends, my family, my co-workers to be aware of? That people with mental illness often struggle, but often succeed. That it comes and goes. That there are things I have lost due to this damn illness, but in the struggle I have also learned a lot.

And lastly, and very personally, I would like people to know that I never weighed anything near what I weigh now before I went on Zyprexa! No, really!

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