I don't like talking about Maya's illness that I thought developed out of the blue in the last days of 2012.
In retrospect,there were signs for a number of years previous but we felt it had more to do with her intellectual disability and certainly not any mental illness....that never entered our minds...
I don't like people commenting about how long it's been since she was last ill.
I don't like to even give it, it's proper name.....mental illness....you see, there is such a social stigma attached to this chemical in balance of the brain.
If she had cancer, people wouldn't avoid her, if she had diabetes , people wouldn't have denied her a second chance at joining in on something. If it had been any other illness, people would have said how strong and courageous she was for pushing on, not giving up....that she was a hero....
They look at her and are afraid, I think realizing, like cancer...the possibility of it happening to them and in the same breath, denying that it was a possibility that it would ever happen to them.
It makes people uncomfortable, always watching her, wondering if that latest reaction to a situation or those words leaving her lips, are an indicator that she's slipping into another episode.
I know, because I live with those feelings.....Every . Single . Day.
My husband says...'stop your fussin'.....but I do.
Last night, I found myself in a very uncomfortable situation.....my husband had sent me an email from the local college. Apparently, it is Mental Health awareness week....everybody is turning everything green....why they chose the colour green is beyond me....isn't that the colour we wear on St Patrick's day?.....and no, being part Irish I bristle at the inference that it's the Irish that only have this problem!
Anyways, this email was a poster of a presentation at the college last night...it did intrigue me to attend ....' Awareness and education about mental health and RECOVERY.....I write that last word in capitals because that's what jumped out at me, .....recovery......I guess I've been on tenderhooks for the last few years, living in fear that there wasn't a recovery....perhaps the same way that a cancer patient who goes into remission always wonders if they will come out of remission.
I wanted to know about recovery...was there really recovery?
So, I decided to go...by myself.....Don was teaching...so, it was just me.
I arrived at the college and found my way to the Auditorium and took a seat...by myself....all by myself....others were milling about, chatting....playing little 'mental health' games out in the foyer...buying t-shirts, putting on green beaded necklaces, or little green ribbons....I barely glanced at those activities, it bothered me that people were being so lighthearted and jovial about a subject that had turned my life inside out, upside down and had scraped it raw.
As I sat in the auditorium, they had three large projector screens, doing what they do best...projecting.....statistics and different slogans to do with mental health....they were on a loop, so as it went through the second time...I felt I couldn't take anymore of the info blasting my consciousness , so I looked down and away...pulled my cell phone out...cause that's what everyone does when they don't know what else to do.....and texted my husband....telling him that I was at the college but wished I hadn't come because I preferred my head in the sand pose. Of course, he wrote back...assuring me that I didn't have to stay...but of course I did....because maybe I would receive a glimmer of hope.....and beside the fact, they gave you a raffle ticket to win a free prize if you stayed to the end!
So, I stayed....not for the ticket...but I really wanted to know if there was....hope.
I sat there for two hours.
The first 45 minutes was a mental health awareness advocate person that gave you all the rah rah stuff, go team mental health awareness stuff...all her percentages and stats.....my brain is already overcrowded and there wasn't any way it would remember all that....she made it sound like in this enlightened age that everyone had or should have, a modern, politically correct reaction to mental illness....but we all know that they don't....there is still a very strong reaction to the general public about it...I sat there wondering if she had really had anyone extremely close to her, someone that she loved and would do anything for, whom she knew that their life, as they had known it, was changed forever by this terrible disease.....or.....did she just know about it through all her research and presentations as she traversed the countryside, talking to people.
Then they had, a quiz! A quiz to participate with ....using your cell phones....to answer the right statistic for the right question...to win a gift card! What fun!
The winner's name was flashed on all three of the screens....excitement filled the air.
I sat there...hoping the next presenter would be different, that the next presenter would give me some hope....and he did...somewhat....he didn't have the same issue as Maya but his was a very deep depression that took over his life for several years...but now, he counts himself as recovered! Wonderful....but he was a professor at the college, he usually travelled around the countryside with the first presenter, making their presentations, in tandem...enlightening people on the political correctness and acceptance of mental health awareness. He was a professor, so intellectually his brain had always performed well for him....I highly doubt that his birth mother had given him a life sentence of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome through her alcohol and drug use....permanently damaging his brain, and to add insult to injury....people with FAS only get worse as they get older...never better.
...but that's what Maya deals with every waking moment.
So when it was done, and I didn't win any raffle gift.....surprise, surprise....I left....and as I drove home my thoughts were whirling.
Had it been worthwhile going to the presentation....I guess so,...the last presenter did, by his very presence,....attest to the fact that there was recovery.....did I appreciate all the things that the promoters did to make they're evening a resounding success...which they all thought had happened and were quite busy by the end of the evening giving themselves pats on the back....not really....they were making light of a subject that I took VERY seriously.....and as for them trying to convince everyone that EVERYONE accepts mental illness now.....just as many of the other life situations are being accepted by our rather avant garde society.....to me, it's still at the stages of the huge controversy like over the transgendered bathrooms....some agree and some don't....and some will never change their minds no matter how politically correct it's suppose to be.
I had difficulty going to sleep last night....I knew I was just as weary as I am every night,...I took some Tylenol to ease the constant pain that I experience and tried to go to sleep...only to be awakened by searing pain every where in my body that the Tylenol wasn't preventing. I realized that for the two hours I sat there and the hours before, I had held my body rigid and tense...and now it was screaming back at me.
Yes, everyone is a victim of mental illness, everyone is affected in some way, shape or form.....and it will never be accepted by everyone...it will always have a stigma to it.....there are always going to be people that are afraid...afraid that It will happen to them.