Welcome to a new feature on Sweetly Snobbish: Mental Illness Monday (or Tuesday, this week)! This year I’m aiming to create great content that really connects with people. I’m going to try this out for about three months and see how people like it. My Mental Illness Monday feature (yay alliteration!) is going to be a discussion of what it means to be mentally ill, including my experiences as a mentally ill young person, portrayals of mental illness and the latest and greatest in psychology.
For this introduction piece, I want to talk about where I’m coming from. I’m doing this because I really, really hate when people go off about hot topics without explaining where they’re coming from and what makes them qualified to talk about it.
I’ve been diagnosed with major depressive disorder, generalised anxiety disorder and panic disorder. Depression and anxiety are the most common comorbid disorders, so my experience is not uncommon. I was first diagnosed with a mental illness when I was 14, but I had symptoms much earlier. When I first felt the symptoms and went to the doctor, I was told that it was just a phase and I’d grow out of it.
That worked out about as well as you’d think.
I’ve been on medication since was formally diagnosed, and I’ve remained on Prozac since. Due to trauma in my life, I’ve been put on various psychoactive medications to deal with those symptoms as well as nightmares. I’ve also been to therapy, though I don’t go much anymore. I was a big fan of art therapy.
I feel the need to discuss the cultural context of my illness. I’m a Canadian. For those of you who don’t know, Canada has socialized healthcare. I don’t pay anything for my medication, or for my therapy. I am blessed in this regard. However, Canada still has waiting lists for getting in to see a psychiatrist or therapist. It can take a very long time for an adult to receive non-emergency mental health services. Mental illness is considered a disability in Canada, and one can receive disability payments if they are unable to work. There have been many successful campaigns here to raise mental health awareness, and you can really see a difference. There’s still a long way to go, especially in Aboriginal mental health, but I’m happy to live here.
I wouldn’t say I’ve ever gone into remission. The symptoms of my illness are always with me. However, writing is my saving grace. It’s helped me just as much as any medication or therapy. I also eat well, exercise, and take time for myself to deal with my depression. Right now, for the first time in a long time, I’m okay. And I want to share my “okay” with you.
So let’s talk, people. Welcome to Mental Illness Monday.