Mental Illness My Hidden Adversary

It’s a quarter to five and I am exhausted…

However, seems the old thing of wanting to write about something so bad I can’t do anything else has returned. I don’t know what this post will be. I have a rough idea of what I want to talk about. Of what I want out of my head.

There are a few posts like this scattered around the site. Pretty much anything in the life category. It may add some context to what ends up in this one.

I have recently found something that is working. I have found an answer to a problem that I didn’t let myself see. I am a person suffering from mental illness. I am a person who has been suffering from mental illness for half my life or more. I knew I was sick I knew things were not normal I knew I was unhappy. What I did not let myself know is that it was all in my head. Not in a dismissive way, not in an imaginary way, but in an actual, quantifiable, so obvious why couldn’t I see it way.

I suppose it is a standard story. It was inconceivable for ME to be mentally ill. To be depressed to have anxiety. How could I, a white male from an upper middle class family, who had little to no responsibility or obvious stress be depressed. How could I, a person living in the USA, who was not a member of any oppressed minority group dare be depressed. What right did I have? I’m not living in some third world country struggling to survive. I’m not a person of color trying to deal with all of the systemic racism that exists in this country. I’m Jewish but I live in NYC, USA pretty much the furthest thing from a hotbed of anti-semitic activity.

Suck it up, I would tell myself, stop being a failure, stop being such a disappointment to your family. Other people have it worse, you can’t feel this way, It is all physical once you solve that you’ll feel better. I didn’t even think mental health was a thing. I didn’t believe in it for myself and for others. It wasn’t a real disease. How very very wrong I was.

I had tried antidepressants in the past but I didn’t see them the right way. For years I have been suffering from literal 24/7 nausea. That feeling you get right before your gag reflex triggers and you heave or start to vomit? That feeling is with me every waking moment. I went to every type of doctor under the sun to figure it out. Just about every specialist. No answers.

Maybe I wasn’t articulating the symptoms well enough, maybe nausea is such a general thing it can’t be figured out. The antidepressants didn’t fix my nausea problem so I threw them away. I also never went to a mental health professional. I was taking pills without any proper guidance or support.

I don’t know what causes the nausea. I don’t know if it is the cause of my mental illness or if my mental illness is the cause of it. I do know that they are linked. That each has stopped me from being able to treat the other. I was in a boxing match with an arm tied behind my back.

A couple of months ago I finally broke through the anxiety and told my doctor enough for him to suspect mental illness. He gave me a quiz and I scored the equivalent of an 8. Severe depression. I had been seeing him for years telling him about my nausea problem. He never suspected, he was floored, he felt like a failure for not recognizing it sooner. I was that good at hiding it.

He prescribed Paxil, stressing that I should seriously seek specialist intervention. I took the pills, they weren’t really working. I still did not seek the help I needed. He then prescribed Cymbalta. It has been a month and I think it is working. I am on my way out. I have an appointment next week to start the ball rolling at a clinic.

For years I kept screaming to the sky,”GIVE ME ANSWER, GIVE ME A DIAGNOSIS, GIVE ME SOMETHING TO FIGHT!” It’s sick to say, but I envied cancer patients. I envied people with the most horrible conditions imaginable. I envied them because at least they had an answer, they knew what they were fighting. Now I know what I am fighting, now I have allowed myself to see the hidden enemy. I am fighting mental illness. I am finally starting the war that has gone too long unnoticed. I am fighting the monster that has robbed me of so much of my life. I’ll be damned if I let it take any more.