Mental Illness Makes You Tough!

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Living with a severe mental illness is not for the faint of heart. You really have to be tough “minded” to handle the many trials and tribulations we face. Consider being able to successfully utilize your mind to climb the corporate ladder only to have that same mind fail you by losing touch with reality.

Imagine having your sister make her way through college and graduate with honors. Then a few years later imagine getting a call from a social worker, four hundred miles away, telling you your sister was placed in the psychiatric ward for evaluation. Forty plus hospitalizations later and an immeasurable amount of heart ache for everyone involved just can’t be described with words.

Imagine being a freshman in college and learning your mother had a manic episode rolled into psychosis and jumped from a 30-foot balcony in her confusion.   Imagine the pain, despair, and confusion those emotions can be when you are living through it.

Some people would say they just “can’t imagine.” Besides who would want to put themselves in your shoes with such human tragedy. These are the stories that never make it to the vernacular of the general population. They have no reason or purpose for hearing or listening to some of the challenges those of us touched by mental illness have had to deal with. I’ve only briefly scratched the surface of my own personal examples. Sometimes they are too painful for even me to recall.

But this brings me to my point, you have to be pretty darn tough to pick up the pieces and move on from life’s disruptions mental illness causes. If you suffer from a mental illness, often a chronic disorder, you will have to learn how to live with it your entire life.  If someone you love gets diagnosed, you will have to learn how best to support him or her.   And the bottom-line is you learn how important it is for life to go on because it does with or without your active participation.

When I reflect back upon my numerous lived experiences with mental illness I think about how I managed to emotionally cope and deal with these major issues often without the help or support of other people. I was expected to accept the situation, cope with it, put on a happy face and move on.

It reminds me of a time when I was working as a sales representative for a Fortune 500 company.  I had just received a call in the morning that my mother had been taken to the psychiatric hospital and admitted. I was still relatively young and deeply affected by her hospitalizations. As a matter of fact when I picked up my manager at the airport I was holding back the tears.

We drove a little while in silence, until she finally asked me what was wrong. I debated for a moment but then I told her what had happened to my mother. She looked at me and said, “Well I guess you’ll just have to focus extra hard on selling your products today.” It was like someone had taken a knife and stabbed me in the heart.

I guess all the years of living with mental illness have made me a stronger person. It has also exposed me to the ugliness of stigma. The very idea that people can be so cold and callous about brain disorders and all the situations we have to deal with.

But as I write these words I truly believe the next several years are going to whiled a wealth of information about serious mental illness. I think we will see attitudes begin to change and people will start getting a clue about what we have to deal with on a daily basis.

I hope some people will finally realize how tough you have to be to live with mental illness. I can’t wait for that day to come and I can’t guarantee I won’t tell people “I told you so.”

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11 thoughts on “Mental Illness Makes You Tough!

  1. I hope you’re right in saying that attitudes toward mental illness will begin to change in the next several years. I recently stopped hiding my mental illness, even revealing it on Facebook to my FB friends. I got nothing but positive feedback, but I wonder how many people really understand what I’ve been through.

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    1. Robin1967..,I don’t think people can ever truly understand what you have been through unless they have been there themselves. But getting such positive feedback on FB is really supportive. It is nice to know people really care.

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  2. When your brain turns on you unexpectedly and betrays you, in a sense, it changes everything. I am deeply sorry to learn about the horrendous experiences you describe. I have the utmost respect for you!

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    1. Dyane you have such a way with words expressing them so kindly. I really appreciate your understanding. It is something I have not gotten a lot if over the years. But you know I really do believe “mental illness makes you thought!” I think you just learn to take things in stride and keep on keep in’ on. Sometimes that is the best we can do.

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  3. I agree 100% that mental illness makes us incredibly tough and strong! Yes, we have to keep on and do our best. If there was a “Bipolar Olympics” every single team member would deserve a gold medal just for living with bp day in and day out! (Forgive my cheesiness, and thanks for the kind words!)

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  4. My mom recently told me for the first time that I am one of the strongest women she knows for going through all that my mental illnesses have put me through. That really meant a lot to me.

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    1. Hi Wil,
      What a wonderful compliment your mom gave you. I don’t know your personal journey with mental illness but it sounds like you have a lot of strength from your experiences. I believe it makes you tough. I am so glad you commented and shared. Thanks for reading my blog.

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      1. You’re welcome. Your blog was recommended in the comments on a post on the Insights from a Bipolar Bear blog. Glad I checked you out. Lookin forward to more.

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