All in Your Head….Duh
Our disability, illness, disorder, disease, whatever you choose to call it is all in our head. That’s what those loved ones and friends who don’t “get it” like to say to us, over and over and over again. Well here’s a clue for them: YES it IS all in our HEAD!
Mental disorder = head. Seems like a no brainer to me but apparently to some, it’s too difficult a concept to comprehend. The hell that we endure generally on a daily basis but not always 24/7 is internal. They only see our illness when we act out of character or “act up” as they like to say. They aren’t privy to the nightmarish never-ending roller coaster of fleeting thoughts bouncing off our craniums at the speed of light.
They have no idea what it is like to try to listen to a conversation while you have at least 100 or more self-conversations going on inside your brain at the same time. I’m always being accused of being forgetful. Hell yes I’m forgetful! With that much data running nonstop through my brain all darn day, I’m bound to forget something and lately it’s been those minor details which turn into Mt. Everest mountains to everyone else.
How many times have you sat or stood listening to someone rattle on while inside your brain your inner voices are screaming “I want to get the hell out of here and go isolate!” Or even worse, they’ve got you so involved in other issues totally unrelated to the current ongoing conversation with said person, that you absolutely have no idea what the hell the person is talking about, let alone what they’ve said. So naturally, you get accused of not paying attention. But you were paying attention to the louder stronger conversations and thoughts inside your own head.
Focus, focus, focus. Tis the name of the game and I will humbly admit that I too still struggle with this one. Especially if I’ve got exciting thoughts about my own life that are rolling through my mind a like locomotive out of control and all I can do is force myself to sit there and not leap up and say, “LISTEN TO ME NOW.” A dear friend of mine was extremely adept in reminding me, gently and tactfully, to “focus.” Not many understand that or how to do it. It’s much easier for them to just snap at us and say ‘ HEY get with the program.” Or something equally as moronic. Little do they know, we’re with the program allrighty…we’re with about 50 programs all at once and most likely have the intelligence level to take over their own program.
Time after time, I read where it’s preferable for those with Bipolar Disorder to seek out jobs where they work alone. Granted, as much as I adore people, I don’t work as well in a team setting because I have to spend so much energy focusing on the “program” at hand, that all their normal chatter distracts me to no end. Oddly enough, I can have the television or music playing and it doesn’t distract me at all. I focus much better with that sort of ambient sound around me as opposed to real actual human beings. Because my selective hearing will always pickup on something being asked or said that I feel compelled to either answer or comment on.
I become so totally focused on my work, that when someone is constantly interrupting me with mundane questions about something having nothing whatsoever to do with my actual work, that I become openly annoyed. Save for my coworker to whom I have explained, it indeed is me…not you so anytime you need something, just ask. And she in her wisdom understands that my irritability is not directed at her. On the other hand, I have one boss who it seems plans for our two busiest days to inundate me with those ever so mundane questions. Always followed by a “when you have time.” I’ve finally leaned it’s best to just drop what I’m doing and head her way to get the issue at hand resolved. Of course this may occur anywhere from 5 to 10 times in an hour. Makes me want to take another Ms. Nice Storm pill…but alas, I follow the PDoc’s orders and do not.
It is the same way in college; I do not do well in class or group brainstorming ideas. I need silence to brainstorm. Funny enough, psychology is one of the fields that are always suggested for those of us who prefer to work alone. Don’t misunderstand; I do quite well as a member of a psych-team. But I do enjoy my time alone.
To take a trip down the opposite path, you’re sitting there listening to a friend or someone conversing with great enthusiasm about some wonderful, marvelous event about to take place in their life. You’re truly interested and care, but inside your mind, your voices are saying, “I jus want to crawl into a hole and cover up and cry for a year.”
In today’s society, the government and other agencies for the disabled have drawn a firm line in the sand categorizing mental disabilities and physical disabilities. While I have all the empathy in the world for the physically disabled, I feel that the mentally disabled are well, basically, getting screwed. So what if our disability isn’t visible? It does affect our daily living skills and for some, affects their ability to earn an income and live a normal life. Those who are blind, crippled, deaf, etc…. don’t always have to have constant visits to a psychiatrist and be on a multitude of medications (expensive ones at that) for the rest of their life. Please don’t misunderstand, I’m not against those other disabilities mentioned, I’m merely trying to point out that our HEAD disability is just as debilitating and sometimes more so. It takes place in our brain. Last time I took an anatomy class, the brain was considered a physical part of the body. But yet we’re mentally disabled, even though technically, we’re physically disabled at the same time. So that would mean that the blind are eye disabled, the deaf are ear disabled and the paralyzed are either leg or arm disabled?
Mental disorder does not translate into unintelligence. Of course there are multitudes of mental disorders where intelligence may be affected and I’m not referring to mental retardation illnesses. But I just get the sense that overall, since we are labeled mentally disabled, most think we’re mentally stupid which we all know is hogwash. We’re supposedly creative intellectual geniuses. So how can we be stupid at the same time? Yes there are many degrees and types of Bipolar Disorder. I’m not referring to those. I’m talking about those who are only affecting by Bipolar Disorder with no other accompanying ailment or disorder.
In order to control and work with this illness in our “head”, we have to use our head. It’s a chemical screw-up; we weren’t born without parts of our brains. Many family members of newly diagnosed BPs get all defensive because they assume it came from “somewhere” and it suggests they themselves might have a (gasp) mental disorder or illness. Personally, I don’t give a damn where it came from. I’ve got my hands full dealing with the present reality of the illness. Besides, it’s not like we can turn back time and change anything.
When someone tells you, “Oh it’s all in your head, get over it.” Tell them, “Yes it sure as hell IS all in my head and since it is a disease, I cannot get “over it”. I have enough trouble seeing that the illness doesn’t get over ME.”
I myself don’t have people in my life who claim such things but I know hundreds who do and it makes me mad and frustrated. Just once, I wish they could place their hands on our heads and have everything we feel automatically transferred to their brains. It’s all in our heads, right? Well they should get the chance to feel that for themselves. But of course that is impossible. So we continue on with our struggle to deal not only with our illness but also with those who can’t comprehend or won’t even try to comprehend what we our going through.
It really cannot be taught, even our Psychiatrists, unless one of them is a true Bipolar, they only know what the “books” say. As I told my PDoc once when he was wanting me to try a new drug, I looked him square in the eye and said “Listen, if you can sit there and tell me face to face you have Bipolar Disorder and have taken this drug and can assure me that this or that side effect didn’t occur, then I will believe you. Until that happens, I will always canvas about 1,000 known BPs who have had the drug and get the statistics on the pros and cons of said drug.” Well, he had no reply to that because I had made a legitimate point. It’s our heads. Only we know what goes on in there. I don’t give a hoot what the books say supposedly goes on. Unless those who wrote the book studied every single person with Bipolar Disorder on the entire planet, those statistics are just that…. statistics. And we all know that just because med A worked for Tom, Dick and Jane, it’s no guarantee it’s going to work for us.
I have a mental disorder and someone tells me it’s “all in my head.” I have to ask them, “Does it hurt to be that stupid?”
**Disclaimer: any typos, grammatical errors should at the very least be overlooked mainly because I have no editor, spellchecker isn’t foolproof and as usual, my mind works much faster than my fingers. **
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