I heard / saw somewhere that mental illness is an invisible illness. That people with mental illness are not afforded the proverbial “ramps” they require in order to cope and survive in the world. And whilst I would suggest moving stairs as a must have for anyone with mental illness, particularly up hill, it’s actually this suggested invisibleness which amuses me so. You see, if you’ve ever met me, or anyone who is really chronically ill, let’s just say that there’s a lot you’d rather wish you didn’t see, because this chick with severe Bipolar is a very proudly uninvisible me. Also, if you didn’t know, I would be worried about YOU,
I know that I am inappropriate, that I say the wrong things at the wrong time. That my brain mouth filter does not work, no matter how many times I try and lodge the closest item into my mouth, to avoid the lithium language that well, lingers after it’s come out. Yes, I have been known to be THE singular fart in an otherwise perfume factory. In fact, this endearing trait is perhaps my only consistent thing I’m able to do. Basically, the opposite of everything that is socially acceptable and done by everyone else. I’ve had these extraordinary abilities since I was little. Even then I would feel and experience everything at least 1000 times more than anyone else. I didn’t have a precise meter to measure this, other than the fact that my siblings didn’t vomit each day they had to go to school, on account of the nauseating anxiety of being late. It appeared at least through this example, that I was gut wrenchingly experiencing something else. Well at least literally, my little psychiatrist self in the making believed.
I am also the same person that will make you three different kinds of biscuits if you come for tea, will write / draw (with no artistic ability) a little note with biscuits I send to take home, I will share my last piece of bread. I also have an even more extraordinary ability which not all people have: the patience and understanding to help you cry. The kind of cry that’s tucked away, the pain in teardrops no-one wants to see. No mental illness is not all sadness – but it is in my experience about hard earned boundless empathy. When you’ve felt the spectrum of emotion I have in my long short life, there are very few emotions I have not encountered. And although I personally flip flopped through my own experience, I am now a well-versed pro in how to deal with anything uncomfortable, clumsy, drowsy, emotional anything.
But no matter how uncomfortable the world may be with my unbridled display of emotion – or stigmatised madness – I am not invisible. My experiences are not invisible. My daily fight to conquer my mental illness is real. And if my eyes look slightly dazed, it isn’t because I’m mad. It’s because I’m TIRED. I am taking a nap, while standing, looking at you. Yes, I have mastered this art too. Because when insomnia is real, you can sleep awake. I’ve done and do this, cigarette in hand. I can sing, and I can cry, even within the shortest space of time. I feel inappropriate feelings at inappropriate times, and if it’s hard for anyone to see or be around, they are infinitely unaware of how it is overwhelmingly amplified in what I can see and feel in me.
People with mental illness are not invisible, we matter, and how we feel matters too. The world has done the opposite I think/. Pretended that mental illness doesn’t exist, or when it does, it should be housed in the strait jacket of psychiatric hospital and disability stuff. ’cause in the absence of ongoing stability (we are programmed to believe we can and will relapse) we do have this: an abundance of feelings we do and don’t like. All. The. Time. And if you don’t understand it, just think about this: you would never want to be, at a minimum, invisible. Please don’t do it to me. Be part of those who support us as opposed to those who don’t. I am 4M’s Bipolar Mom.