Mental illness is a REAL illness


This is not a political post; I am all too aware that the Affordable Care Act was anything but. Unless something miraculous changes in the Senate, mental illness will no longer be included in the new health plan. So…not only do I have a variety of pre-existing conditions but the one that makes me most ill (and yet is least expensive) will not be covered. For some reason, addiction and mental illness has been put in one category. From my work and personal experience, mentally ill people often self-medicate but they are not the same. I have a clearly inherited condition, much like heart disease, and there was no element of choice. I am not criticizing anyone who has an addiction – there is enough blame to go around.

Let’s take this past week. It started on a high with Teddy’s birthday and then rapidly went downhill. Why? Even I want to slap myself because it was no good reason at all. Our roof has been leaking and the contractor took three days to repair the ceiling, leaving me trapped in the master bedroom which has a large bathroom and closet. Toffee (my elderly cat) and I had to go there so that she wouldn’t escape or get in their way. I had great plans; I would write blogs and binge watch girly TV shoes. Mentally I was paralyzed. Thoughts started spinning in my head about how fat and useless I am. I am neither of those things. I couldn’t watch anything other than old Bones episodes because I couldn’t concentrate. Then the physical pain started to set in. When you sit in an anxious state, you start getting cold and stiff – it was almost 90 degrees outside but the air-con was on for the contractor.

I was determined to do better the next day but the anxiety was rising. My thoughts were, “what do I really need to prioritize in my life?” My ridiculous conclusion was that I would be really happy if I got back to 1** lbs. (about 6 lbs. less than I am now). I joined a free weight loss internet club which told me I was already within my BMI range and that I would have to eat 700 calories a day to lose 2 lbs. a week. This is a glimpse into a world of disordered thinking, especially with eating. Then the sciatica kicked in. I was fully aware that I could have sat in the yard, watered the garden or tidied my filing system but again – paralysis.

By the third day, I had drunk a small glass of vodka with anti-anxiety medication because the paint didn’t match (our ceiling has not been painted in 13 years). I spoke to poor, long suffering Teddy who could hear a panic attack coming on and he agreed that we would ask them to leave. Teddy would finish the painting after our roofs have been replaced in the next few months. As soon as the contractor left, I sprang into action, steam cleaning tiles, polishing our leather suite and assembling everything back in the room. My sciatica really hurt after all that but endorphins got me through. All throughout the 3 days and nights, I had horrifying nightmares that meant that I was really sleep deprived despite being in bed most of the time. My eating deteriorated to almost nothing except snacks and vodka. Perhaps I should revise my thinking about putting mental illness and addiction together?

Now it is all over and I am on the way to feeling better. I ate properly, stopped drinking vodka and went walking to help with the sciatica and general good health. Then, I lost my sunglasses. It felt like the end of the world – I searched the house and garage. It culminated in texting my husband in California to see if he had seen them. Finally, good sense prevailed and I ordered another pair from Amazon at $7 – less than two lattes. I am still hugely annoyed at myself for this whole week. Why couldn’t I just deal with it? This is the true cost of mental illness, a life mostly wasted because of tortured thoughts. Mine are benign, as are the majority of people with mental illness. There is real physical pain, too. The only time I felt happy with an illness was when I was in a full leg cast for almost a year. For once people could ask me what was wrong and not be embarrassed about the answer. Sometimes you need sympathy for an invisible illness.

If the act passes without amendment, mentally ill people will end up in and out of psychiatric hospitals or often prisons because they haven’t been able to access regular help at their psychiatrists, psychologists or doctors. In the end that costs more than a quick visit to the shrink.

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36 thoughts on “Mental illness is a REAL illness

  1. Such a rough week you had. This is an excellent post that may go some way to helping people to understand how debilitating mental illness can be. Hope you are still going the right direction to feeling better.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Sorry you weren’t well Kerry and glad your much better today. It is important that you wrote about your mental illness. Not many can make it understandable to others but you were very clear in your writing. Take care. I’m glad you have Terry. ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Kerry, this is a great post for awareness of this illness. I am sorry you had a bad week and hope this week is much better for you. Trust me when I write these words – I understand your pain. Hang in there dear.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. A very honest description of just how as you say life can go from bad to worse just by everyday things going on in your life , like painters being in your house
    Thank goodness the episode has now passed and you are feeling your old self again …. not meaning you are old !
    So many out there in your position Kerry 1 in 4 suffer from mental illness .

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Teddy, you handsome gentlemen,,,hang in there.

    I have PTSD that came on after I married my hot young bride. Nothing either of us could do about it, but I have to freakin work on it everyday. Sailing helps me but isn’t for everyone. Kerry, it’s on ongoing struggle for both of us I think. I’m conservative, but I think the new care act has less goodness than the old one and it was rammed through to show action in the first 100 days. Internet readers,,,,don’t troll me for these comments.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thank you. PTSD is a hard condition to manage, you have my sympathy. I wouldn’t worry about your comment (internet trolls) – I don’t have that many conservative followers! 😁

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  6. I can only echo what others have said. This is a truly excellent post. Frank and gloves off. It makes me sad and angry that so many stigmas are still attached to Mental Illness and that instead of trying to redress the balance for those with uninvited imbalances in the brain and yes, those that unwittingly invited the imbalance too because for heavens sakes, no-one sets out to GIVE themselves a mental illness, it makes me as mad as hell that a nation that considers itself the most progressive on earth should be passing such an inhuman act. As a little side note, as I think you gather I relate very strongly to the description of how the week went and as a moment of sisterly solidarity I broke (not lost) my sunglasses last week and had an epic meltdown (remember I live in the heart of a city in France where sunglasses are an essential chic accessory) and couldn’t put one foot in front of the other to walk through the door of ANY shop to replace them. I understand. I truly understand and I am so so sorry that you had a week that was as pleasant as rolling naked on shards of broken glass embedded in concrete all day every day. 🤗

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you so much, Osyth. I don’t think there is an easy answer to our health crisis but I would be very happy to sit on a committee!! I laughed when I heard about your sunglasses tale – at least mine only cost $7… 😎

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  7. yes it is an odd pairing … mental health and addiction .. I’m guessing because no one really wants to deal with either, so they think lets lump them together, give them less funds and see what erupts … they always attack the vulnerable because they don’t have a strong lobby presence. Glad things are looking up …

    Liked by 1 person

  8. What a truly inspirational post! To be so open about your worries, fears and concerns is a gift in itself that I am sure will help anyone who is not feeling ok and who drops by here and has a read. Your heartfelt words will breathe new courage into anyone who is not feeling too good. Well done you!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Kerry, I’m so sorry you had to experience yet another episode of this debilitating illness. And isn’t interesting how the example you used with your leg in a cast was more acceptable because people could “see” the cast? I hope you are feeling better.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Yes I can definitely relate. Just what does a mentally ill person look like? Replace the words mentally ill with whatever and it’s the same result. We need to strike these words. Again assumptions get us into trouble.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. I am sorry you had a rough week. I can empathize more than I would like to admit. The health care part is truly scary to me. It is a scary thought to think of where people will end up when they are unable to get the help they need. I don’t know how the system got so messed up, but hopefully, enough people speak out to somewhat fix it. Thank you for sharing and I look forward to reading more of your posts!

    Liked by 1 person

    • For a moment, I considered deleting your comment and then I looked at your site. If you read back your comment, there seems to have made an implied criticism on my blog, perhaps unintentional. I haven’t made any effort to find followers, nor am I making any money from the blog. I don’t always write about mental illness but it comes from the heart. I wish you all the best in your journey through mental illness and pain.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. A very belated comment from me. I’m rushing to catch up on my blog-reading after a spell away from the internet, but I just had to take the time to congratulate you on this post. Well said, sister.
    Sometimes I wonder why our society (I’m thinking “modern Western” here) is so determined to distinguish between physical and mental illness, regarding the first as “real” and the second as somehow delusory. Surely, illness is illness, whether it affects our bodies or our souls? Or, most often, both?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I completely agree, especially since head scans show that there are physical differences between people with and without a mental illness. Surely a brain dysfunction is physical? Thank you for your thoughtful comment.

      Liked by 1 person

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