I pay for my domains once a year and every time I think “wow I have to blog more or this is a ridiculous waste of money”. So I try to blog. Right now writing isn’t easy, which I think has a lot to do with my mental health at this specific point in time.
I am bipolar (type 2, if you’re curious) with an addition of severe anxiety, particularly in social situations. A month ago or so, when I submitted an application for a learner’s permit to drive (yes, I’m almost thirty-five and hasn’t gotten around to getting my driver’s license before – shut up), I received a letter saying I need a written statement by a licensed psychiatrist stating I’m fit to drive. I received this letter on the very same day that I was triggered by a conversation I don’t really want to go into, but let’s just say that I left work, walked aimlessly for over an hour, shaking and crying and having a complete and utter meltdown. My sister texted me every few minutes for that whole time, keeping me company.
It’s a good thing I do this job out in the middle of nowhere, because I walked up and down those country roads, ugly-crying as the anxiety made me want to – not hurt anyone. Not hurt myself. It just made me want to be someone else.
To me, my mental illness is a very passive condition. I revert into myself, I want to hide, I want to melt into the ground. I never act out. I never hurt anyone, including myself. So needless to say, receiving this letter, although it’s just standard procedure, hit me really hard. It probably would’ve been easier to deal with, had that Other Thing not coincided with it. As it was, the two are still affecting me deeply.
That letter is still sitting on my dresser. I need to give it to my clinic, so they can write a note for me. I just haven’t been able to bring myself to do so. I will. But not yet.
The last few days the media are full with reports of this. The focus is completely on his depressive episodes, on his sick note, on his psychiatric diagnosis, which nobody really seems to know WHAT it is, just that it’s… something. Implying that, yes, he was depressed-or-SOMETHING, and thus he drove a plane into a mountain.
It might be true. It might be why he did it. But the way the media is writing about it doesn’t make the stigma against mental illness any less. I honestly can’t articulate in words why it upsets me so much, but it does. The majority of people with depression and anxiety and what-have-you aren’t dangerous. The majority doesn’t drag 149 people along with themselves when their illness kills them. But trust me, it’s what people will remember. It’s what people will assume. You can count on it.
This was not what I meant to write, at all. But there you go.