What an amazing day I had today. Thanks to being set up as a member of the mental health writer’s guild, I have added ten new followers in just one day. That means a lot, especially if I can somehow help even one of those people. My thanks go out to everyone who signed up to be notified of my new posts.
It hasn’t even been a day since I posted my last blog, but I had a few things I felt would be good to talk about. For a long time I have been working as a stage hand for the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, and though the work is getting difficult as I age, I think I would have a hard time not continuing with this work because I have so many amazing friends there.
Tonight my job was to set up and tear down the stage for Black Sabbath, but the concert was cancelled just a few hours before show time. I don’t know how they managed to let everyone know about this, I am sure there were literally thousands of hugely disappointed fans, but none of them were at the venue to complain or riot. Maybe it has to do with how polite Canadians are.
One of the things of note that happened tonight is that I started talking with one of my co-workers and found out he is a writer as well. We had an interesting talk in between times of having to do things and he shared with me that he had a friend who he is sure is bipolar. I gave him my business card with the address to this website on it and told him he was welcome to have his friend contact me. This really amazes me because for many years I thought it was a terrible thing to tell people I have a mental illness, but so many times I am finding, when I do people start to talk about themselves having difficulties, or a family member or friend who has difficulties. Mental illness is really something that touches all of us and hiding it away on some far off corner of our closet doesn’t help anyone at all.
Something I also wanted to touch on here is self stigma. This is when a person feels guilty and blames themselves, even harms themselves for their condition. Many years back, when I first had a serious hospital admission, I had so much guilt. I had embarrassed myself, my family, lost friends, ruined relationships, lost respect and just about all of my material possessions. My solution to all of this, as it was around the time of the first Persian Gulf War was to throw away all of my hopes and dreams and to sign up for the military wanting to be killed in battle to restore what I thought I had destroyed through my own fault. Of course this could have ended in me dying, but fortunately my psychiatric records kept me out of the Canadian Forces. I still wanted to punish myself though and began running, as much as 50 miles a week. I ran so much that I did some very serious damage to my knees and became not only psychiatrically disabled, but physically disabled as well. By some wonderful chance of fate, my knees have healed and I have been able to go back to a normal job and make some money to supplement my disability benefits. What surprises me though is how a disease of the brain can affect people in such a way that it gets manifested in physical ailments. One example is that when you take medication, your mouth often gets dry and saliva is a person’s first line of defense against tooth decay. So, people with bipolor or other disorders often have bad teeth.
Another thing that suprpises me is just the sheer volume of people who have mental health issues, especially when you add in addictions problems, even alcohol dependency. It is a bit sad to say but if I keep working in the mental health field for the rest of my working days, I will never be out of work.
I hope some of these words can help those who read them. To the person I spoke to today and to many of the people who are new to this blog, I want to say that a diagnosis of a mental health disorder is not a death sentence and that things can really get better. Be a proactive patient/consumer/mental health survivor. Get out and join groups online or in your city where you can meet with others and share your difficulties and triumphs. Advocate for yourself and for those who are too far gone to have a voice of their own. If you are just curious about mental health, find books and talk to your family Doctor about it. The worst thing you can do is suffer in silence. And, as always, feel free to drop me a line, I can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org and I would love to be able to help you and be your friend.