Part Three – On a Hair Trigger

It’s been a while since I last posted on here, around ten weeks.  A lot has happened in that time.  It’s important that I mention that for a couple of weeks I did improve.  But, it didn’t last.  People tend to overlook that in dealing with mental illness it is quite often a case of one step forward, and two steps back.  It is that ignorance from the community at large that does get to me the most far more regularly than I would like.  It would be nice if I didn’t suffer from mental illness, but that is not the case.  The level of ignorance and indifference in the community at large really pisses me off.  Especially considering that if they were in a position similar to mine, they would expect better treatment than I feel like I receive.

Yes, I’m angry and hurt about all of that.

So, screw them.

I’m not going to improve if I get bogged down on this as well as everything else, I have enough issues to try and simultaneously resolve, without adding to it.

So, trying to move things along.

I need to talk about why my improving wasn’t more long-term, before I move onto to the ‘main event’ of this post.  The main thing that ultimately wore me down was the treatment I received in my hour of need.  Boiling it down, I wasn’t enough of a priority for the system here in Australia.  The focus was purely on whether or not I was a danger to myself, or potentially others.  When I proved that I ultimately wasn’t, in spite of being in pretty bad shape mentally, I was cut loose.

That really hurts, and freaking sucks!

I’m all for taking responsibility, but seriously?  I feel like I’ve been left holding the bag, as usual.  I will accept that holding others responsible for my mental health is unrealistic.  But when I am held totally responsible for my mental health, irrespective of the actions of others, and to the detriment of my mental health, I have to ask one simple question.

Are you freaking kidding?

On this point I am absolutely livid, because it makes a mockery of the values that Australia and western society claims to hold dear.  It is beyond a joke, with people like myself being the punch-line.  I’m all for taking responsibility for my mental health, but when the community at large contributes to the problem instead of the solution, I have to question what the point actually is.  Are they trying to help?  Or are they trying to make it look like they’re helping, when they’re really not.

So, in regards to mental health, Australia and western society can shove it!

I am tired of empty words, hollow platitudes, and empty promises.  I’m supposed to be grateful for being born in a ‘first world’ country, but I’m not.  Not even close.  Give me something to be grateful for, and I will be, but I will not show gratitude for half-measures or false hope.

Ugh.

I know I’ve digressed pretty badly, but what I have on my mind needs to go somewhere.  Better out than in, right?  I am hoping that all of this will still tie into the purpose of this post.  If you’ll indulge me for a tiny bit longer, that would be great.  I’ll try and be brief, fingers crossed.

I found out last week that in addition to being on the autism spectrum, I also have Schizo Affective Disorder.  But here’s the thing, no one told me.  I got tentatively diagnosed in November last year, but no one shared that with me.  If it wasn’t for my employment consultant; mental health issues are taken into consideration in regards to employment services here in Australia; reading the relevant report in an attempt to understand me better, I would never have known.

That aside, it does explain a few things.  In particular, the violent mood swings, and getting manic when I’m really low.  Problem is, I’m not taking it well.  It’s just one more thing I need to try and overcome.  While it is what it is.  I don’t need it right now, but given time it could lead to some answers, like why there are some things I can’t even remotely cope with.

Anyways, thanks for indulging me…time for the main event.

As the title suggests, I am unfortunately on a hair trigger.  I have been told many times over the years, by many people, that they don’t know what they’re getting into with me on any given moment.  To be fair, without getting melodramatic, I don’t even know myself a lot of the time.  Being honest, I do know what my main triggers are; which I won’t get into right now; but the things that get me without warning I’m not really sure where to start.  I will say this, my thinking is that it is the most trivial and insignificant things that set me off.

As an example; and the reason that I decided to get my act together and write this; last night my Dad asked me a question about dinner, a question I couldn’t easily answer.  That little thing, was enough to set me off.  I felt like I was going to lose the plot.  I felt manic.  My mind was racing and I didn’t feel as though I could do anything about it.  I felt out of control.  Later on, when I was out pick up dinner, another customer tried to smile at me, and ask me a question about whether I’d been served or not.  And this was the response in my mind.

How dare you.  How dare they.  How dare they even speak to me.

This was over someone being polite.  The fact that it was a woman made it worse; my issues with women run deep, but that’s for another time; how dare she be in my presence.  There was a lot more going on in addition to the actual words running through my mind at the time, but I can’t adequately describe it.  I don’t really know where to start.

Raw and animalistic.  That’s all I can come up with right now.  The fact that something so trivial can illicit such a strong fight or flight response, is deeply concerning.  Ultimately, it is what it is.

It’s this unpredictability of dealing with mental illness that gets severely overlooked by the community at large.  They don’t get it.  To be fair, how can they?  I’m happy to accept a level of ignorance by the community at large due to a lack of knowledge and understanding.  But wilful ignorance?  I think not.  Especially when I’m held to a higher standard by others, in spite of my being on the spectrum, and having Schizo Affective Disorder etcetera.

If I’m honest with myself, and trying to take ownership of it, I need to admit that my being on a hair trigger is one of my defence mechanisms, and one of my most powerful.  I’ve had a lot of practice over the years.  People are far less likely to try and deal with me if I look like I’m staring daggers at them, or I’m trying to burn a hole in their head with my eyes.  Having less people around is in many ways simpler for me.  I dare say that I would almost completely cut myself off from society if I was better company for myself.

I know that I’m not.

At face value the solution would be; in spite of where I’m at; to open up more to people and try to be more outgoing.  As far as I know that is ‘Managing Depression 101’, keeping to yourself is bad, opening up is good.  The problem I see is this, I can’t protect myself from others, and the things they may do that get under my skin, when I’m too busy fighting myself.  I believe that is something that is very much overlooked by people in a general way.  There is a reason why I withdraw from people, and other people grappling with mental illness potentially do the same.  Here’s the issue that stems from that.

No-one asks why.

I know it’s unrealistic to expect other people to have that level of insight, but it might be important that I at least try to accept that people in general don’t have the level of insight that I may have.  To be fair, especially given where I’m at, the insight I do have is a double edged sword.  It is just as likely to cut me to shreds mentally, as it is to be helpful.  This is doubly so if my insight is tackling an issue that doesn’t add up, or I don’t have enough information.

Moving away from that, because I lost my train of thought on that point, as unrealistic as it is, it would make a refreshing change if people in a general way started question why a person like myself is where I’m at presently.  The important thing to remember is that the person in question would ideally accept the answer they get.  I’m where I’m at for a reason, other people dealing with mental illness are where they’re at for a reason too.

For the sake of increasing awareness about mental illness, I’m going to ask the following of people who are standing on the outside looking in.

Do you want to help, or not?

It’s important that if you are genuine and sincere, you are honest with yourself.  As someone dealing with mental illness, I have more than enough on my plate, without having to deal with misguided attempts at help from the outside.  More importantly, I have been on the receiving end of egotistical do-gooders too many times over the years, I’ve had my fill.

I’m probably being incredibly unrealistic, but to be fair it is my firm belief that one of the first things to go out the window is a persons’ ability to trust others while dealing with mental illness.  In my case, and I’m sure I’m not alone in this, having my trust violated in the first place substantially contributed to the problem.

So, for those of you who have a loved one with mental illness, try and be mindful of the situation as a whole.  If you even have the smallest concern that you might not be able to handle what could be coming your way, find another way to help them that doesn’t involve them opening up to you.  Yes, it is invalidating to admit that you can’t help someone, I sincerely understand that.  But believe me when I say that it’s better than the alternative.

Opening up is difficult enough without having to deal with the issues of the person you’re trying to open up to.

Accept that in encouraging someone with mental illness to open up, that they may take you to a place that you’re unable, or unwilling to go.

Apart from opening up in some way; what I’ve got on my mind needs to go somewhere; the goal is still to try and increase awareness.

Anyways, time to wrap this up.  I do have more to say, but it’s a little jumbled and disorganised.  I’m hoping that means that the important things have been said.  Thanks for tuning in, and indulging me for the front half of this post.

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