Upon talking with someone this evening about mental health issues, I realized he was right about something and wanted to address it.
Mental health issues should NOT define someone. Saying, “I am bi-polar, schizophrenic, A.D.H.D., etc” sounds more like a definition of who one is. When one has cancer, they don’t say, “I’m cancerous.” When one has Cystic Fibrosis, they don’t say, “I’m C.F.” So, why do people so often say, “They’re bi-polar.” or even those with mental health issues say, “I’m schizophrenic.”? I have been guilty of doing this myself. Yet, I do not let any of it define me, control me, or own me.
No more, “I am bi-polar.” or “I am schizophrenic.” I have bi-polar disorder and I have schizophrenia. But like a cancer patient, there are treatments. Though I have gone the traditional medication and therapy route before, that’s no longer my routine. It does work for many and I don’t knock it for those who truly need it. However, in society today, doctors are so quick to dope people up. Medication isn’t always the answer and it’d be great if they would explore all possible options. I stand behind those who truly need to take the medicine to lead a normal life, but not behind those that don’t.
Living with bi-polar disorder and schizophrenia hasn’t been easy. I have had these problems since childhood and at that time, didn’t know what was going on. I was so confused and scared. I didn’t understand why my brain didn’t work properly. Once diagnosed first just with depression and anxiety issues and then later with bi-polar and schizophrenia (as I slowly opened up to one psychiatrist about the voices and visions), I let it beat me. So often, I would use it all as a crutch, an excuse to do the things I did. I have had trouble keeping jobs, friends, boyfriends, relationships with family members going, etc. My mood swings were out of control and I saw no way out, no way to control things. I figured that would be how my life would be, forever spinning out of control. The visions and voices frightened me, to the point I have lost so much sleep over the years and for a long time, no one knew about them, no one, not even family or close friends. Only over the last year have I begun to confide in others about this because I am no longer ashamed. It is a part of me, so I am done hiding it.
Like I said before, I used to take medication for the bi-polar and depression. I have taken so many now, I have forgotten some of them. Some worked, some didn’t. When I’d have a lapse of insurance or just not feel like it, I’d not take them anymore. I’d try on and off to battle my brain without or sometimes I was just tired of trying period. I have also been to more therapists and psychiatrists than I can remember. I will admit, it’s been nice to have a non-biased opinion now and then, someone to talk to who didn’t know everyone in my life, someone who could be objective.
Things are different now. I have successfully lived and battled with it all without medication for roughly four years. In the beginning, I didn’t know how to work around the disorders. I didn’t fully understand them or myself, so I suppose then I needed the help of the medication and definitely the therapy. But, little by little, over the years, as I grew and changed…I learned how to triumph. I decided that I was strong enough to not let it win, not let it beat me, not let it define me. I am so much more than any disorder. My arthritis, bad vision, asthma, etc don’t define me either. What I have or deal with is not me, it’s just a part of me, not me as a whole.
I am Carissa. There are many facets to me. Not one single part can truly tell you who I am. You have to get to know me and see every side of me to really get a good picture. I am many things to many people. I am a mom, a sister, a daughter, a granddaughter, a niece, a cousin, an aunt, a friend, a girlfriend, a passerby on the street or at the store, a singer, a writer, a photographer, a bowler, a dreamer, a winner, a loser, a Christian, a believer, a doubter, a listener, a talker, an Empath, and so on. Even with all of that, there is still so much to who I am. So as I first stated, I am Carissa. Not one thing about me will ever define me, even if others out there think otherwise.