Wednesday, October 6

I found this on the web. It's interesting.

The 12 Best Things About Being Mentally Ill

It’s an odd title I know. What can possibly be good about mental illness? Well, nothing when you’re in the depths of despair. But there can be great benefits from having an illness, including a mental illness. These are the ones I’ve found in my life.
I’ve slowed down a lot. I stopped wearing a watch a couple of years ago and haven’t missed it once. If someone asks me the time I take a guess, and I’m always within 10 or 15 minutes of the correct answer. If I’m 10 or 15 minutes late for the doctor, it doesn’t matter. He works to the same system anyway.
I’ve learned how to say no. If you are good at something, like work, then people will ask you to do more. It builds up over time. I’ve learnt to say no. I can’t. I’m mentally ill. Sorry.
I don’t worry about what I’m going to wear. I don’t have to keep track of my clothes cycle for work. I don’t care what I’m going to eat for dinner, whether I need a bigger television, if I can buy a half-decent car or what people think of my extra 30 pounds of insulation. If I didn’t have depression these things would still consume me.
It’s been tricky but I’ve learned to be thankful for what I have, not what I don’t have. It keeps things in the right perspective.
I now spend more time on things that are important to me. Example – I have great relationships with my kids. Time with them is invaluable. Unfortunately most Dads don’t spend more than a few minutes a day giving their kids undivided attention. Depression is a good wake-up call.
I’ve developed a much bigger picture of things and learned to keep the small things in perspective. This has been necessary because of depression.
I take my physical health much more seriously than I used to because of my illness. If I can just get exercise to fall into place!
My marriage is far stronger today than it would ever have been if I didn’t have bipolar. I read recently that 90% of marriages with one partner having bipolar end in divorce. If that statistic is even close to right then it is truly tragic. My wife had plenty of reasons to leave me for years, but she stayed true to her vows even though she didn’t understand what was wrong with me. (I write that with a touch of trepidation. I know that many don’t have good support and I can’t imagine how hard it is.)
I’ve always been very open about having a mental illness, and I’ve actually never felt the stigma. When I converted to Christianity about 15 years ago I lost half my good friends who had a problem with it. Since I’ve been telling people that I have bipolar I’ve gained at least the same number of friends. Go figure!
The best thing about having any illness must be the ability to empathize and help others.
I was once very guarded with what I said, often checking myself from saying anything that could offend or impact someone’s view of me. I’ve really lightened up and feel liberated. I’m rarely inappropriate, but if I am, as far as I can tell nobody really cares. (“Mmmm, James is a bit up today.”)
In the Bible, in Romans 5:3-4 it says:
“we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”
Being engaged with the world is good. I think a lot more deeply about things like inequality, poverty, the environment and mental illness. Unfortunately being more concerned means I feel more let down by those in power who continually fail us.
Life is absurd. My life is absurd. I’ve learned to laugh more at both.
We have friends who always have a very, very messy house. 3 young girls, great imaginations, a lot of dress-up clothes, craft, renovations, and you know the rest. They frequently invite other families over for lunches and dinners, and have long joked that it’s a service to the parents, to make them feel better about the state of their own houses.
Then I found this in another blog:
“When you’re mentally ill you are constantly doing social work just by existing. I realize that often, when you’re crazy you actually need social services for yourself, but just by talking about yourself to people who aren’t feeling that great about themselves, you are able to instantly make them feel glad they aren’t you. That’s a great service to offer.”
I took part in a pilot educational program a few years ago for people with bipolar. It was spread over 6 weeks for 3 or 4 hours a week. Before then I had never met anyone with bipolar, so it was strange getting to know 20 other people with the same illness. Strange because they were all very normal people!
On one night a guest speaker talked about her bipolar illness, describing some of the joys and benefits that she’d experienced. At the end of the talk she said that given her life again she would have bipolar again. A couple of people were very offended. For the rest of us it gave food for thought. I’ve been chewing on that one ever since.

If you find this interesting too, check out these links to various parts of the site. You won't regret it!

Thank you for taking the time to read this, or at least look it over.


Hans said...

Very interesting - there are always advantages and disadvantages to being disabled, as long as you can keep the humor this person has. It's definitely about accepting the consequences and not being so concerned about stuff that used to concern you IF you can think of it that way. The main thing I guess is to not let it stop you from living.

Metamatician said...

Well, that's where the rest of the site comes in, although I haven't read too much of it yet.

There is lots of support for people with brain disorders out there. But you have to find it, and it helps if those close to you understand along with you.

Thanks for looking at it.

Metamatician said...

It's also not all about the person who is going through it. Others could benefit so much by reading this stuff and not putting so many expectations on those of us who are not like them. We don't want to be, and can't anyway.

Hans said...

Yes, I understand what you're saying. It's time for support classes for both of us! I have some sites I will send on email.

An Gabhar Ban said...

Awesome blog. I've been reading it a bit in my (HA!) spare time and forwarded it to my friend with bipolar as well. Thank you!

Metamatician said...

Thanks, Karen.

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