Here’s the answer to yesterday’s question…Yes, I know, the title gives it away 🙂 All of the celebrities mentioned have a mental illness of some sort, whether it be depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia…there are many, MANY different mental illnesses out there. One thing that bothers me is the label “crazy”, as in “He just went crazy one day”. Oftentimes mental illnesses are always in the background, and certain words or events set them off. I do understand, though, that we are woefully undereducated on the subject and accept that sometimes people just use words that are familiar to them because they don’t know any better terminology. I’m going to take a big leap and tell my personal story…
I remember being nervous quite often as a young child. I was afraid to dive in swimming class; I didn’t mind jumping into deep water, but something about going in face-first really bothered me. I was TERRIFIED of playing team sports because trying to remember the rules made me worry so much that I couldn’t think of anything else. I didn’t want to join choir or the track team (or any other individual sport) because I didn’t think I was good enough, and that people would laugh at me or be disappointed when I let the “team”, or the rest of the group, down. I was what you would label “gifted”, and as a result teachers gave me more responsibilities than the other kids. I remember one incident where my Grade 1 teacher asked me to take a note to another teacher’s classroom; I was so nervous about knocking on her door and having all the kids staring at me that I went back and told my teacher that the other teacher wasn’t in her classroom.
Junior high is usually a wasteland of embarrassment, heartbreak and low self-esteem for most people, but to be honest, I really enjoyed it. I started to come out of my shell; I joined band and discovered I was a GOOD clarinet player!; and I had a great group of friends. Sure, there were spats, but we were always there for each other. My grades remained high, and I even had my very first date to my Grade 8 graduation dance.
High school is where things started to really go downhill. I went into an advanced program with dreams of going into medicine, and my grades plummeted. I was sick nearly every morning, and avoided studying because doing so would make me MORE nervous about the upcoming test. I did very well with essays because I could sit and take my time, writing at my own leisure. I simply didn’t know what was wrong with me, which is not a good feeling at all.
Fast forward 8 years. I was at my third university, having switched programs twice. I had taken dozens of courses, but did not yet have a degree. I took my father out to dessert for his birthday, and he broached the subject of depression, giving his personal experiences. With each word he spoke, describing situations and feelings he had experienced, I realized that I finally had an answer to what was wrong with me.
I’m doing much, MUCH better now. I’m taking medication: Effexor, which is part of the SNRI class of antidepressants. I have also found a wonderful therapist whom I call by her first name and who has given me a lot of encouragement. I’m still working on my problems with relationships, but things aren’t going to get better overnight. And, of course, the blog helps me get some of my feelings out too. If you’re still here, thanks for reading 🙂