I am not a failure, am I?

Sometimes I Feel Like A Failure

Does having a mental illness make you feel like a failure? As much as I know I am far from a failure I still have my moments when I look at former colleagues and think, “What the heck happened to me?” Of course I know exactly what happened—mental illness dropped on my doorstep and interrupted my life, as I once knew it, but sometimes I have to remind myself of this fact.

Believing we are failures because we have a mental illness is really part of self-stigma. It’s fits right under the category of blaming ourselves for having an illness. I suppose it is in part a way to try and make some sense out of various behaviors and in an effort to take back some control over the situation we point our fingers at the person looking back at us in the mirror.

Self-Stigma: Shame & Blame

In times when I am suffering with a depressive episode I shame myself into believing it’s my fault, as if I really have any control over the illness. The shame makes the situation far worse and really adds to the bad feelings I already have about myself. I made a point to stop the shaming the last time I was sick. It’s already hard enough as it is to get well again but I learned I needed to be a better friend to myself.

Why Can’t I Be “Normal?”

If only I was normal I wouldn’t have to deal with all these things. Mental illness can take you out of mainstream society. It can interrupt your life with hospitalizations, frequent doctor visits, therapy, medication side effects, loss of work and all these things can cause a withdrawal from life. Stepping out of my daily course of living has made me feel like a complete failure. And then the voice of reason kicks in and I hear myself say, “If it weren’t for bipolar disorder life would be different.”

Finding Inspiration

I’m sure not everyone who experiences a mental illness has felt like a failure. But I am willing to bet many people have and I want to speak to those people. I want to tell them to lift up your head and hold it high; hold back your shoulders and walk with confidence; start believing you are so strong because you have faced off with adversity and you have won; you are a valuable member to the community; and you will find your way to recovery. Above all you are not a failure.

Mental illness can cause so much pain and many personal struggles. I have learned that I cannot give it any more power over me than what it deserves. I have approached it in a way that says, “I have a mental illness and it’s not my fault, and I’m going to pick up the pieces and move forward with my life. No mental illness is going to stop me from living a healthy, happy and productive life.” It’s my mantra and I believe it!

 

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16 thoughts on “I am not a failure, am I?

  1. I have been chased by the black dog for over 30 years and for the longest time I felt like a failure. I had a 10 year period of Hypo in my career which was great. Top sales person, traveling the world, making 300K, life was good. My doctor kept telling me the higher you go the deeper you fall. Who listens when you have an clouded view of the world. Mine came crashing down in 1995 and by 1999 I had blown thru 500K, lost my job, divorced, filed for bankruptcy and spent several weeks in-house getting ECT treatments. God is the only one I can give credit to for me being alive. Fast forward 2001 receiving more ECT, very suicidal. It took several years to stop thinking about what I did have and how I lived to thinking about now. Once I passed that hump, didn’t cry anymore because had to pawn all my jewelry, mostly shallow thinking. I have not had a taste of hypo or anything close since then. I had the Vagus Nerve Stimulator put in, not the miracle hoping for. I’ve had plenty of bumps, taking care of both grandparents as they die, more ECT, suicidal episodes yet I just keep looking forward now. Maybe being 50 helps. I have a good life, very blessed yet I’m still challenged by serious health issues that can bring on depression. I have spent close to 3 years in the house or bed except for seeing doctors. Finally my heart issues were diagnosed and now I have illness that doesn’t have a name yet. I think it’s Lyme. I had a meltdown this weekend thinking about how long since I’ve had a life. I cut my own hair last night. I got over pity party and happy to be at my desk this morning. I don’t know if that helps at all. I do know where you’re coming from. I hold my hand out if you need someone to talk to. Sorry to dump my life in your lap. 🙂

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    1. Looiing for the Light…I am so sorry your illness caused so many significant losses in your life. I am glad you were able to make it to your desk this morning, sometimes one day at a time can help us feel like we are making progress. I’m doing pretty well. I have a lot to be gratfeul for, but I still struggle. I have learned to celebrate my successes and sometimes that means getting out of bed before noon! 🙂 Thanks for commenting and I’m super glad you decided to follow my blog. Thanks again. Amy

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      1. I live in the Dallas, Tx area and have a great Psychiatrist he’s a Psycopharmacologist. They are experts on how the meds effect the brain and which part of your brain needs the meds. It’s fascinating I have tried over 40 meds and some worked for a while. I would get a little better but always depressed would not get out of beds for weeks on end. He prescribed Dexedrine which is basically speed and with in one-two weeks my life turned around. Most doctors probably don’t think about Dex, they go for new drugs like the ADD drugs. They just don’t have enough of something to get my brain firing. The drug has been around forever, he was a MD in Vietnam and he said they would give higher doses to get soldiers to the rage stage so they could keep going. That is the key is keeping you self in check for rage. I got there once, when want to drive people off the road it time to dial it back. It’s a thought.

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      2. Looking for the Light,
        Thanks for sharing the information. I’m actually doing pretty well. I have my moments, but I have found the more productive I am the better my thinking. It’s just a lifelong process isn’t it? Thanks again.

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      3. Hourly process somedays. I won’t lie it sucks but you have to make a choice. If I’m going to live then try everyday to find something to celebrate. On my bad days I’m reaching for the smallest thing to feel I am controlling my life and tomorrow will be better. Stress is what really triggers my down slide and it’s hard to keep yourself in check when you also have something else wrong. I’m doing better this time, it’s been a year. I have an appt. with a Lyme Literate doctor and hopefully I get an answer. I probably think more of my husband getting tired of having to do everything, listening to me and maybe leaving me. I have to remember I’m a survivor and I can’t control other people. You sounded more down than your words. I have a mood chart my Therapist gave me to help me articulate with my Psych how I was doing from appoint to appoint. It’s great. I’m working on making a nice one instead of my handwriting and posting it this week. I help me talk in the way my doctors listened. 🙂

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  2. This is a great post and would give courage to any one suffering with mental illness , I would love to share this post on face book , no problem if you prefer not to , your posts are gems and full of courage, many blessings to you. Kind regards Kathy.

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