The Face of Mental Illness

“Gosh, you’re so mental!”

“What are you, fuckin’ crazy?”

“What is wrong with you?”

“Stop being ridiculous. Just calm down!”

“Why can’t you be normal?”

That’s just a sampling of what I’ve heard my entire life. I had no idea I was actually suffering with a disease. I just thought I was the ‘fun’ one. Talking about anything wrong with your brain was frowned upon in my circle. You just “got over it” and that’s what I thought I had to do.

When I was in my first week of college classes, I remember sitting two rows away from the door. The professor was speaking and his voice started becoming blurry, as if I were under water. The thoughts in my head began to spin, my heart raced and all I could think about was that if I didn’t run out that door, I was going to die. So I left. I tried again but those feelings returned, so I did not. And so goes the story of the birth of my anxiety.

A traumatic experience when I was sixteen brought on depression so that was something I was familiar with, but I had never dealt with mania. I had heard of people being manic depressive but I just thought it was another fancy term for something I didn’t care about. Then I was hired for my first office experience. I remember very clearly my first “manic” episode. It was like a light switch turned on and my body itched from the inside out. I had to move. There was nothing I could do to stop. I walked around, talking to co-workers who were politely trying to continue working while acknowledging my odd behavior. My manager finally came over to me and walked me back to my desk, telling me I had to sit down and work quietly; coaching me like a child. I just couldn’t help how I was feeling.

At that time my dream was to be an actress. My heart was never really in that office job anyway. I cut my hours back so that I could attend acting classes and expel my excess energy on walking around NYC and auditioning. Never once did I take a second to understand why my moods went from uphoric to depressed. I just assumed it was the lack of success in my acting pursuit.

When I met my husband, my manic episodes turned into angry, irritable shifts that caused us many fights. Fights that should have broken us up, should have had us divorced by year two.

Next month, we will be married 7 years. None of which have been easy. My moods, though much more stabilized, can go from happy and goofy (see first picture), to desperate for a reason to live (see second picture).

I don’t have any answers but I do want to help as many as I can by sharing my experiences and what I’ve learned. My tumblr is www.nerdylilly.tumblr.com and I have an ask me anything page that is anonymous. I am there for ANYONE. You can also find me on Twitter @NerdyLilly.

I also want to share a GREAT resource for anyone suffering with anything, even something minor and ESPECIALLY young people. It’s called ProjectUROK and can be found at www.projecturok.org. It’s chock full of videos of REAL people talking about REAL issues and how we all deal with them.

We are not alone in this fight. Let’s end the stigma. Let’s talk loud about who we are and what we have. Let’s try and help ourselves and others. We can do this!

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