I’ve signed up, a few days late due to my impeccable organisation skills, for NaBloPoMo at BlogHer for Feburary, this month’s theme is ‘Perspective’, one which I think fits well with this blog.
For this first post I am going to write on something that has been brewing in my mind for a long time.
Perspectives on physical and mental illness, what it’s like having both.
For a long time I didn’t face put o my mental illness, there was a lot of resistance to the idea I could be depressed. I have M.E and there are various issues surrounding the diagnosis of M.E and misdiagnosis as depression which led to some inadvertent stigma around mental health, which I have blogged about before.
In my experience the division between mental and physical health is not clear cut. My depression has physical symptoms and my physical illness has lead to being in some really dark places which doesn’t help the depression. I live with both every day, I cannot separate them and furthermore I don’t see why I should have to. I suffered a great deal from ill advise CBT to help with my M.E as a teenager, I was told I couldn’t be ill and off school unless I had ‘real’ symptoms; i.e a temperature. This whole thing has lead me to doubt myself, it’s lead to me pushing myself further and feeling guilty when I do take it easy, it’s lead to me not truly feeling some of my symptoms are ‘real’ and longing for a diagnosis of a ‘real’ problem so I could relax and be ill in peace. I think that’s why I have found the internet, twitter and sites such as ‘But you don’t look sick’ so helpful, it’s a place where I can be without having to prove something or live up to some weird arbitrary test of what a ‘proper’ ill person is supposed to be. I try to avoid reading articles and comments on disability benefits because it’s often conditions like M.E and depression that get seen as ‘fake’ illnesses and they can set off depressive feelings, I sometimes feel guilty if I have a good day and go out and enjoy myself. It feels like my whole existence is questioned.
It feels like I’m in this weird no man’s land between ‘physical’ and ‘mental’ illness, that I never quite fit into either box as there is always something from the other one overlapping, causing complications. Most stories we see in the media tend to revolve around people with one diagnosis and often with a miraculous recovery, we seldom see stories of more complicated cases, people struggling with various conditions crossing the boundaries of the physical, psychological and psychiatric. Despite the fact people with a disability or chronic illness are more likely to suffer from depression, most depression awareness campaigns seem to overwhelmingly feature otherwise abled people. Most Mental Illness support seems to assume a ‘normal’ level of physical health and most support for physical illness and disabilities focus primarily on the physical; with mental health often being brushed off as ‘feeling down’ as a result of illness. Perhaps it’s a side effect of the less than holistic nature of modern medicine?
I’m not entirely sure what the point of this post is, I’m feeling rather brain fogged today but I can’t shake this feeling that I feel rather lost being ill and mental.