Today I learnt for the first time in my entire life that I have a Severe Mental Disorder. SMD for short. SMD for those in the know. Because it usually isn’t the person with the mental illness that ticks the SMD box. No. It’s um, talk to you like a five year old, ascribed by someone else ticks the box. You see, I found out that I had a SMD because I was looking at ways in which mental illness is assessed and or “discovered” (I personally prefer experience, since it is so, so, so much that. Experience. Bucket loads of emotional experience many of us would prefer to be without).
My conclusion is that people with mental illness are assessed to be: a) you can go home but we gonna send you a supportive text now and then, b) stay in the ward until your lithium kicks in (and you are less likely to harm yourself or others, or all of the above) and my personal favourite: c) do not pass begin, do not collect your money, go straight to and stay in psychiatric jail. And I the most get stuck on the somebody else classifies you as A, B or C and will / won’t wreck the rest of your entire life. Someone else says SMD – and all of a sudden you feel like you have a non-sexually transmitted life-threatening infection and your mind herpes is sticking out for everyone to see. Yes, they SMD’d me and initially, I needed to bake and cook the entire contents of my fridge, and not work, and feel stressed about that, and everything else I may have forgotten because well severe. But I have something to say. And I hope the SMD box tickers hear me loud and clear.
When you ask me to tick a list of questions about how well I am functioning when I’m actually not, it’s unsurprising that “washing” and “toothbrushing” are totally trumped (excuse the pun) by sloth like motion, chain smoking and living my best, depressed life. During said life, I practice food network hopping, extended sleep therapy until one of my children reminds me that they haven’t eaten and well, severe and hungry should never be in the same sentence. I also have to tell you that you have no diagnosis or symptomatic description of the bravery it takes to get up each day, the severe weight of your bones, blood and limbs it seems that you drag yourself through to make a living for your family. For walking through oceans of anxiety, but still appearing to wear some slips off me swimsuit that doesn’t exist. No. Don’t you dare tick my SMD box. Because I am Seriously Mad about this Disorder you’ve given me.
Because me like many others in our Continent live with their SMD’s. They don’t want to, but know no alternative, no reach to care, no reach to medicine, no reach to counselling. They’re – we are – often mis-treated in far flung communities where even the littlest bit of extra is seen as severe. Chained even. Because in my experience, when others decide who or what you are, how disabled or not you are – you either end up believing it yourself (worst) or they continue to SMD you – no matter what (not nice either). Instead today my friends, I say stand up. Stand up and be proud of who you are – and never allow a clinical assessment to define how good or bad your life is. I’ll be SMD’d if I do. Be part of those who support us as opposed to those who don’t. I am 4 M’s Bipolar Mom.